fit to be tied
in that hanging town i’m from
they teach their girls early
about the mathematics of sacrifice:
how you need to give something up
if you want something new to fit.
every name my mother nearly gave me
is a virtue. none of them are mine.
and today is not the day i turn myself into a garage sale,
rifle through my own body and label everything
KEEP or SELL or THROW AWAY.
i’m hanging on to all of it, you hear me:
dignity, eyeteeth. i liked my smile
before you came around and i’m not giving it up
just so you have somewhere to plant your flag.
when animals show their teeth
it is a warning sign. there is no gentle
way to say this: i don’t want
to do it again, drinking whisky
until it tastes sweet, until i turn myself
into another apology, saying sorry
for where all their hands have been,
sorry for what i gave up, sorry
for what they took. i am not
a ransacked village today, i am not
a gutted home. i am not empty at all.
my mother says i got too much mad in me
and it’s true, i can’t hold it all any longer in
these two fists, i’m welling up
with the flood of it. i got too full of that mean.
sometimes truth cannot be tender:
there is no room for you here, i’m lighting up
the NO VACANCIES sign. i am full
of myself. filled me up with my own.
By Sonny Schader