another letter to the man

poppa,

i open my mouth & this sadness spills like a colony of bees.  every dreary winter i think, all i need is sunlight, but the sun is lit, the air is humid & sometimes hot, & i am sinking into a cold pool of sorrow & longing that feels bottomless.  i kick my feet, wishing to wiggle my toes in thick wet mud or sand, but i don’t touch down.  the water freezes above my head, & i become one of those children who tempted fate & sank, trapped below the ice, until she became an inert ice cube.

i talk with GP about death, about the likelihood & chances of being flattened by buses, electrocuted in the bathtub, or poisoned by carbon monoxide.  i ask him if this is normal–if everyone sometimes wishes for accidental death–& he tells me he doesn’t know, that it seems normal for us, & to ask my counselor, who throws around words like meaningfulness & talks about collecting it, as if it were rainwater dripping into a barrel.  & because i have not died in a house fire or choked to death on a candy bar, i must live.  & because i must, i wish to do so as messily as possible: all night in a bar slinging back shots called lemon drops, my fingers sticky & sour from the sugarcoated citrus slices you suck to ease the bite of the booze, my laugh a burble of light from the pit of my belly.  men will be drawn to the joy & mystery of my siren song, or they will see opportunity: a vulnerable girl with a little too much meat on her bones & not much to lose.   either way, it doesn’t matter: they will take me home to use in animal ways.  my eyes will spin & the world will move fast, but i won’t throw up–i will be so drunk i forget you, forget what having a father has sometimes meant in my life, forget terror.  i will make them orgrasm, hera covered in peacock feathers & dripping pomegranate seeds into their open mouths.  then i will kick them from my bed & into the street.  they will be lucky if i allow them their clothes, & i will lock them out.

i will roll from bed late in the afternoon, the world still spinning.  i will spend two hours scrubbing my body raw, then i will drink wine & write poems naked.  i will love my body.  late in the afternoon, i will remember my jobs, but for days i won’t show up, three then seven then twelve, until the voice mails with phrases like abandonment of responsibility and termination.  i will register for a credit card.  i will not pay my bills.  bit by bit, i will ruin my life.  watch as your little girl becomes the soap scum ringing the drain, the persistent fruit fly at the kitchen sink.  won’t you be proud then?  won’t you tell everyone you know as you pull my high school pictures from your wallet?  my daughter the filth.  my daughter the insect.  my daughter, the child i robbed.

say it aloud: “my first sexual experiences were with my father.”  let those rotten words roll in your mouth, tongue them like raspberries, let them grow into cavities.  allow it to be true–your father between your legs, your father with his fingers buried in your fleshy folds.  let it ruin you.

spend years of your life fumbling into your own demise.  abandon yourself, the dreams you held as a child, the glow in that girl’s eyes.  forget yourself.  numb out the world with calculated incisions to your ankles & forearms.  sweeten it with chocolate & ice cream, fatten it with cheese & mayonnaise & bread.  then try to starve yourself into something as fine & delicate & barely-there as a spiderweb strand, knowing you will fail, always fail, but smile.  stay charming & awkward & quiet & sweet.  impress them with your report cards & the rhythms your fingers pulse from pens & piano keys.  hide everything you know you are.  forget & bury that girl, knowing you can never be her again.

taste it again: “my first sexual experiences were with my father.”  let it boil inside you.  let it attract you to men (boys) who cannot fulfill or understand you, who take & take & never heal you, who will promise their love & toy with the idea of marrying you & then decide no, & leave.  watch as the world shrinks into a small glass marble.  watch as it crumbles into dust.

now say this: “i will never be loved,” by choice or circumstance or both.  say, “i will never be known,” because you will always be at attention & on guard, & because you do not know, at the root of you, who you are.  burn that into your skin.  tuck it into every grey fold of your stupid reptilian brain.  know that they will never want or cherish you.  go ahead–cry.  cry into your pillow, into the sleepless nights you spend drunk with all the lights on.  cry when they make love to you & cannot look you in the eyes.  cry in the shower, the car, outside at work on your cigarette breaks.  it will not do any good.  it will not solve anything.  your tears will not make them stop hurting you or inspire them to change.  your tears will not make them stay.  but go ahead–try.  try to move them.  try to move the earth.  you will not succeed, not naked & on your back, not with fresh wounds on your arms, not with sweet wine souring your breath.  you will not succeed.

then decide to be a big girl.  watch: the big girl in a kitchen full of melodrama & knives: one in her hand, one puncturing in her heart, one buried between her thighs, hundreds dangling from the ceiling on thin strings.  watch: the big girl naked in the kitchen, willing the earth to rock the room, shake the foundations, snap the strings.  watch: the big girl standing very still during the earthquake, willing your name, like the hard pit buried in a clot of black cherry flesh, off her tongue.

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