Letter to My Future Daughter 4
and The Blue Swallows Everything But Me
First published in Perfectly Normal Magazine, Vol. 2
Two poems about mental health—one about the complexities of inherited mental health issues and mother-daughter relationships, and the other about riding out the waves of depression—included in Volume 2 of Perfectly Normal Magazine.
Letter to My Future Daughter 4
When you find a lover, and you will—
he or she or they or ze will not find you
with a crumpled soul and smooth it out
with their lips like an iron
on your good button-down shirts—when you find them
and your bodies fit together as closely
as your hearts touch in the daylight,
your passion heating their skin under the moonlight,
do not let them rip off your panties,
because you are a masterpiece—that I
had nothing to do with.
I will only provide you with the canvas
and brushes and let you fill your bones
and cover your skin with jagged lines
and broken swirls. The aurora borealis
will shine from your eyes like a kaleidoscope,
so do not let them rip off your panties,
because you paid good money so you could look in the mirror
and say, “damn, my ass looks great in these.”
But I will hear your voice through the floorboards
and I will whisper through the knots in the wood,
“No. Those panties look great on your ass.
And no lace underwear or tight jeans
or the caress of a lover’s lips
on the hollow space between your hips
will make you more beautiful than you already are,
than you have been since the day you deflated
the bump between my hips and brought a lightshow
to the skies.” Daughter, when you find a lover
do not convince yourself
that just because you are the Water Lily Pond
you are not Monet, too.
The Blue Swallows Everything But Me
I face the water
inch my toes closer to the surf
let the blue stain my skin,
same as the salt staining streaks
down my cheeks.
This tightness in my chest
this aching in my bones
this hollowed out heart
feels too infinite to fit
inside of me, no matter how my skin
stretches itself thin, marked
like a lion making herself a tiger.
The ocean is the closest thing to infinite
that we can touch, can believe
it curves forever over the edge
of the earth, believe
we cannot see the bottom because
there is not a bottom to see, only darkness
like this yawning void growing, infinite,
between my ribs, strong enough to cage it in
like the shore contains the ocean,
but not strong enough to keep it small,
same as my feet will never reach the seafloor.
It’s so easy to imagine my body
disappearing inside the dark of the ocean
same as it is collapsing into the darkness
inside of me, forming dense and dark
and forever—a black hole cracking my ribs
until they break its surface.
But I will break the surface, too,
of the waves, the water and salt and long-dead
decay turned brine and seafoam
pouring over my tongue, out of my lungs
back to where it came, burning all the way.
The water will not fill up my body,
refuses to drown something as infinite
as it is—not infinite at all, only deep
only fearsome, only fearful, only free.
Still the waves will carry me, cradle me,
let me learn to make this body into a home
instead of the seafloor into my body’s home.
The ocean whispers to me, not lullabies,
but fight songs. My ribs are not cracking, my heart
is pounding on the drums of war like the waves
pound the shore. The ocean grew hands to hold me
until I grew strong enough to swim back to shore.