Trigger warning: Trauma
I’m getting on a train going uptown.
Everything that hurts you will be present here.
When that is a person, they walk the earth alongside you. They witness the grief imposed and fold it under their palms like a finished grocery list.
I’m sitting on a plastic bench, my thighs sticking to the orange surface.
Their boots crunch on gravel in a memory, crunch on bone.
Now picture a swimming pool in mid-summer. You don’t hold your breath as you’re pulled under, and you look up at the disturbed, glassy surface and wonder if this is what you’ve been searching for.
You come up for air, gagging and spitting, and you know this is what love looks like.
I’m listening to a voice on the intercom announce the next stop, letting my headphones swing from my neck.
Muffled coughs from behind a mask fill the screeching silence.
Now picture a locked bathroom door, a smiling face drawn in steam.
Your legs tucked up onto the seat, your panicked breaths muffled by your own hands.
Love is violence and make believe.
Love, you think to yourself, is an absent-minded touch at best.
There is a man standing next to me holding onto the safety handle. He lurches with the movement of the train car; he meets my locked gaze.
Now picture a late-night hike, your tears splashing the end of your shoes and the rocks beneath them.
There is a silhouette in the distance, barely visible in the brush.
But you can feel their eyes turned away from you, always turned away.
You are a hostage to that dusty room, a pawn in a game of twisted limbs.
The train-car doors open and the sweeping air from an underground walkway gently tucks my hair back.
The mob of travelers welcome me into their swarm.
A woman in blue linen moves my arm out of the way of a rushed figure in scrubs.
Now picture a tent in the grass and early morning birdsong.
Your memory is barely awake, and yet there are hands, hands everywhere, and there is no stopping it.
You find yourself looking up at the mesh canopies, thinking about what it would feel like to climb to the very top.
I stop and shake my head at the top of the concrete subway steps, letting the tunnel vision lead me to the upside.
I should let the open wound bleed out in sunlight.