tangled up thoughts

when she was a little girl, she
never wanted to be a princess.

it wasn’t because she didn’t like them,
but because
where other girls saw beauty
and glitter
and beautiful dresses, silky and soft
she saw power.
she saw a power and a responsibility that
no amount of beauty would
ever make her want

and she read books about
anne boleyn,
and visited haunted castles
and tried to imagine the kind of life where
people were locked up in towers
and brothers murdered brothers,
husbands wives.
she tried to imagine what those
big stone castles would look like at
night, with the lights taken away
and she tried to imagine waking up
at daybreak,
the crisp morning air mingling
with the smell of sewage
and sweat
and sour breath,
and being raised by people
who weren’t your mother.
she looked at guillotines
and, in shocking moments of clarity,
imagined herself bound in front of one
heart jumping, lungs aching
panic seeping through her body with nowhere to go.

and then she grew up [and met a special somebody]
and those thoughts lay forgotten in a tangled heap
of clothes and laughter and murmured sighs
when he called her his princess.

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the willowy girl and the secret keeper

“I think there were skeletons? Yeah, they were dancing around a fire. And there were weird demon things with horns. And it smelled like smoke and trees and spices.”

 

“You can smell things in your dreams?”

 

“Of course.” She tilted her head, frowning at him. “You can’t?”

 

“I don’t think anyone can. I don’t think that’s even possible.”

 

“It is. It definitely is.”

 

“You might be crazy.”

 

She exhaled sharply, her face twisting into a terrible imitation of anger. “I think you’re just jealous.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

“Mmhm,” she nodded, confident in her assessment. “Because I get these intricate, beautiful dreams, and yours are just boring. Boring, boring, boring.”

 

He stared at her, a secret smile playing on his lips. He wanted to tell her that she was the most beautiful person he’d ever seen; that she made his blood feel electric; that if his dreams were as intricate as hers, he’d smell her lilac perfume, stare into her stormy eyes, take her on dreamland adventures. He wanted to tell her that her lips were too red for her face, and her eyelashes were too long for her eyes, and her slender nose was too crooked to be as adorable as it was.

 

He wanted to tell her that she didn’t make sense. He wanted to tell her that sometimes he ached for her. He wanted to tell her that maybe his nightdreams weren’t as beautiful as hers, but his daydreams certainly were.

 

“What are you staring at?” she asked through a mouthful of sandwich.

 

He grinned a secret-keeper’s grin. “Just thinking how crazy you are.”

 

She threw an empty juice box at him, but he continued unfazed. “Schizophrenic, maybe. Do you hear voices?”

 

“Shut up.” But she was laughing, and he laughed too, and then he asked her to tell him the rest of her dreams, thinking that maybe, someday, he would tell her his.

love notes on paper lungs

[dear boy-with-the-piano-fingers,

just between you and me, your smile makes my lungs crinkle up like paper and for an instant i forget how to breathe.]

 

[dear my lovely you, sometimes my words come out jumbled when all i want to say is i love you.]

 

[you smell like the ocean or maybe like a jazz club at night when the air is blue and thick with smoke and everyone’s together but alone at the same time and the music’s so smooth you feel like you could touch it. it’s a good smell.]

 

[i love it when i kiss your collarbones and your fingers brush my hip bones and we stay frozen in that moment so that we’re nothing more than heartbeats and rustles and breath.]

 

[you make me shine.]

 

[pinky promise you’ll always be mine.]

 

fifth grade

it’s winter, boy

let’s bundle up in hats and mittens and stripy scarves,

buy ice cream

and walk around outside, eating it smugly

our breath turning to steam and

people staring at us, secretly wishing

that they had icy strawberry cones too.

 

it’s summer, boy

hot and bright, blacktop

soaking up the sun and radiating it back

burning my feet when i kick off my flip-flops.

let’s go buy gatorade

the big, big jugs of it

and drink it all, fast

and see if it really makes people sweat

bright colors.

 

it’s autumn, boy

back to school, back to

waking up with purple shadows painted under my eyes

but pssst. i have a better idea

let’s sneak off this morning, huh? let’s

crunch through the leaves and climb that big tree

let’s feel the wind on our skin and the sun on our freckles and

i’ll teach you how to kiss

[because i saw your sister doing it, and i think

we’ve been going about it all wrong.]

 

it’s spring, boy

i put that valentine you made me up

on my wall.

i think i’ll marry you.

let’s sit down today, and

plan the wedding

and while we’re at it

we can plan our summer

because i just can’t wait to start drinking gatorade

and burning my feet on the blacktop

with you.

evenings

sunday.

 

the old black clock tick

tock

ticks

and you play with my hair

insomnia reigns.

 

monday.

 

sleep drifts around us like

mist

the tree casts rainy shadows on the wall, and

someone yawns.

 

tuesday.

 

i trace patterns in the ceiling with

my eyes, exploring shadows.

i want to ask you who played batman

in the version i liked, but

i think you’re already asleep.

 

wednesday.

 

your fingers explore my face as though

you’ve never felt it before

you trace my collarbone

and kiss my shoulders

and tell me to have the

sweetest dreams.

 

thursday.

 

i whimper about

my day, and

you hold me together

singing softly.

the chipped white door creaks

and the cat curls up on my knees.

 

friday.

 

it’s quiet on our street tonight

it’s quiet in our room

i wonder briefly where you end

and i begin

but then sweat drips

and time stops

and someone whispers

i love you.

 

saturday.

 

i think the neighbor’s having a party

her dog’s going crazy, and

you can’t stop laughing.

while she listens to bad music,

we make a fort under the covers

and drink wine out of teacups

and talk until dawn.

mornings

sunday.

 

the croissant crumbles in my fingers

buttery flakes drift towards mismatched

china

and your lips are stained with

strawberry jam.

 

monday.

 

sleep clings to your eyes

like a shadow

and i watch you breathe, while

i trace your collarbone with

tired fingers.

 

tuesday.

 

we wake before the alarm

and count how many times the

neighbor’s dog barks

before she finally lets him in.

your soft laugh blends perfectly into

the early morning sun.

 

wednesday.

 

your fingers trace the curve

of my spine

the old window rattles

in the wind

and i press my cold toes against your leg.

 

thursday.

 

half asleep

i mumble how the faded, flowery wallpaper

looks pretty in the sun.

you tell me i look prettier.

 

friday.

 

i tickle your cheek with my eyelashes

and make my fingers do

ski jumps

off your nose

and wonder out loud why

the room smells like oranges

(you tell me you ate some

for a midnight snack.)

 

saturday.

 

linen sheets feel soft against

my sleepy toes

and i miss you until you come in

carrying a clinking tray of

milky coffee

and strawberries

and you smile

and crawl back in bed, and

sing softly in french

while we eat.

the stammer

her hands were small and

so translucent

that you could see her blue, blue veins

through the skin.

 

she had a light sprinkle

sprinkle

sprinkling of freckles

and a sometimes stammer

and he thought

that she was too lovely to

love him

 

but she swore she did

even though her sticky tongue could never

get the words out

 

“I

I love– I

lo-

I la.la.la.

you.”

 

she would scowl and wish

for eloquence

for a stammer that would let her

speak

her mind

 

and he would smile and

tell her he knew, tell her

he loved her too, tell her

she didn’t need to say it

 

but her heart beat

beat beat

beat beat

against her ribcage and

she knew

she had to make him see.

 

so at 3am she woke him up

and she took him outside

and she pointed up

and she said

 

“I want to be yours

until all those stars

are gone.”

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