Something about you must have always screamed “rag doll.”
And now that you’re a college student and not a bean sprout,
You’re trying to figure what must have been your wrinkling worth,
how there are some people tossed like hot potatoes between ocean waves, without wondering what they deserve,
and that love doesn’t sound the same if it doesn’t come with bruises after. We worry about the difference,
because our mothers tell us they love us,
but an investigation so deep
the scuba divers have to change their tanks,
and 2 years later, you’re seeing her on “her time”
the supervised visitations, and everyone in the room
is pretending they don’t know why an officer has to be present
for a mother to see her babies.
And now your boyfriend is breathing out the same word in parted lips
across the pillow sheets,
and you want to define it differently this time.
You want it to mean what Webster’s dictionary has told the rest of the world, but hearing it from someone’s mouth,
and feeling it in your soul
are two separate entities and they have both
left you to be picked last in gym class.
hear me when I call your name!
I swear, if you ever write that word on a worksheet again,
I will come rattle your bones like a child’s present on Christmas morning.
Because you are flesh and not fabric, and if you can’t see that, than feel it.
Feel me; the stitches of skin you notice when you stare at your fingers too close, it’s the same.
My hands don’t look any different than yours,
and this doesn’t hurt any less than it did when you were 8,
and you had tears streaming down your face like watercolors.
That’s how it works, right?
You take your father’s fists when you’re younger, and sit staring at the mirror now because you’re 43, and just pulled your little girl by the hair because
she didn’t want to go to karate class and it’s just a bad day,
you didn’t mean it. You love her.
But all you’ve known is sucking your blood back from you lips like you should have been sipping straws from purple Juicy Juice boxes.
Childhood isn’t always like that,
and you don’t know how to stop a current you didn’t start, but got sucked into.
I’ll say this to you once because this is a mistake painted black and the brushes should never come out again.
The cycle stops here. The midnight gang wars played out in households
ends with you.
Sign up for a boxing class and throw punches at something that doesn’t have a heartbeat, take needles and knit stitches for every tear you have caused them.
Fill their closets with all the scarves of your sorrow.
But it won’t mean a thing until you mean it.
And as much as I yell these words into your being, that’s something I can’t teach you.