Illustration by Anna Carter-Hernandez
things i have called myself
7 years old and i am
jagged fingernails bitten down
to the flesh, pink and raw.
my mother wraps bandages around my fingers
to protect me from my own mouth.
10 years old and i am
all sunburns and curls,
bare feet hitting hot pavement,
wet grass, and watercolors.
13 years old and i am
cigarette smoke seeping in
through a cracked window.
i am a page torn out of a book that
my family tries to tape back in its proper place
but the edges don’t quite line up.
16 years old and i am
eyes and i am hands and i am
a cup about to overflow.
i am the television playing too loud
and a gum wrapper someone left behind.
18 years old and i am
a glass half empty and
a hunger in the pit of your stomach.
i am a body of cinnamon sticks and
cherry stained lips,
a ruined envelope with a smudged address
(an illegible black scar hiding a desperate wound)
now i am 21 and i am
tired of searching for words to call myself.
i am digging my hands through piles
of bone turned to dust,
studying a fractured timeline,
looking for something,
anything, solid but it slips
between my fingers.
and so my body is transparent,
my name, indiscernible.
i am all the things they call me,
burdened by definitions
no longer my own.
things men have called me
- Piece of ass
And I don’t know how to turn that into poetry.