Ashley has two children with names.
She had a baby in high school,
When we all thought she’d never lose her virginity.
I check my email at four in the morning
to find that one child is six, and I feel
I’m going blind. I take more vitamins
than I have teeth. I can’t sleep
more than two hours a day. It’s always 2004,
my grandmother is dying:
Aunt Marion cries,
It’s just not her. I don’t know how
I’ll bury my mother.
All I have are my hands,
pushpins to keep a sheet over the window:
it’s night forever if I don’t walk outside —
It’s Sunday. I’m alone
in my body.
Trina was pregnant too,
for a while. The rumor is still that
she threw herself down the stairs:
she couldn’t afford the abortion.
It was her “happy accident,” like
the fifth cigarette I put out on my arm before
jumping into oncoming traffic.
The rumor is
deaths come to us, like ideas
in the shower, but I couldn’t wait.
I knocked my head against that door,
dumb as a woodpecker. I carried my grief
like a child huddled and shivering
in the belly of a nightmare
for a while: I kept my word. Portia,
listen, a note pinned to the collar,
a mangy, wandering dog. I slept
in the corner of my body, afraid
the light was a vicious, hungry animal
The things people said:
depression isn’t real.
You’re too damn smart
to feel this sad. You have to make it up,
the time you’ve missed, the reasons
you’re trying to leave. The Lord
God will guide you back.
God, how could you do this
to your poor family? God,
you’re being so selfish.
I was expecting you to bring me jeans,
my Spider-Man shirt, not the blinding orange
Bible, pages thin as the voice of L., who is still always
hanging herself in the early conversations of birds
in the room across the hall as I dream. Some truths burn
like houses and the people who run back into them.
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