After Michelle Chen
At every party, you tasted like
expired orange juice, or
mouth to mouth by a waterless
swimming pool. You were the glass
that broke in my own two hands.
My mother could never make
eye contact around you, blue
filling every tile in the kitchen.
She begged me to let you go.
You are the exit music that never
paused or stopped. And maybe,
maybe you are to blame. Don’t
ask me what for.
I could’ve sworn my mattress was breathing,
the oxygen slow-dancing beneath our bodies.
Everyday, you reminded me I can be undone.
My hands, my throat, my spine. Broken.
Slit. Snapped in half across another’s knee.
You told me this, and you said it’s to help
me. It’s for my own good.
You were always drawing chalk lines
in my mouth, playing with my esophagus
as if it were a beach ball. Fourteen-year-old
girls have always been vacations for you.
They forget to take their meds, or involuntarily
vomit them back up in the kitchen sink. When
I first met you,
I held a knife to your throat out of fear. Later,
you told me you found it exciting. You found
me exciting. I was all bobby pin limbs,
teeth in a crooked glory, afraid of everyone.
Yes, I was just like all of the others. But that,
that was the fun part.
You teach me how to make French toast,
how to fishtail-braid my hair without
looking in the mirror. Once, my hands just
dangled from my wrists. Now, they are
keeping me from losing myself again.
Not feeling nauseous or half-asleep
all of the time has never felt more like
a basic human right. I want to give you
all of the credit, but you won’t let me.
I will always try and explain this feeling,
but then I remember:
There is so little to say in euphoria.
Lydia Havens writes and lives in Tucson, Arizona. A part of the literary non-profit Spoken Futures, her work has previously been published in Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Words Dance, and Textploit, among other places. In March 2015, she was named the Women of the World Poetry Slam Youth Champion. You can find more of her work on Tumblr, southwestwitch.tumblr.com, or on her website, lydiahavens.weebly.com.