Purgatory

I am running out of pretty words
to let them know that
my darkness
is not fictional.
It is hidden instead
under crimson lipstick dripping down
blood red sins on the white lace dress
I wore on my First Communion.
My mother does not understand
how my mind, of sixteen years,
has run out of purity—
casualties of fading light
and trembling hands that have forgotten
the dimpled smile on God’s glorious face
the day I was born.
I too, have forgotten that day,
instead dreaming of mornings spent
on my bedroom floor heaven
of rapidly-inflating lungs
and eyes that have seen the reflection of affliction
far too many times to be considered holy.
For I am the sacrificial lamb
slaughtered to the mumbled hypocrisy of praise,
blinded by the guilt
of every mortal sin collecting like bodies in silence;
the sound of shattered souls buried by seraphims.

How much grace can one mortal swallow?

I beg you.
Have mercy on me.

Epidermal

You are not supposed to rip pages
out of books bound by human spines
or all of the pages will fall out
and disperse across the ground
like autumn leaves exhausted of trying.

I learned this the hard way.

If there is a cure or concoction
to heal a brilliant mind

I crave it,

because finding medicine to express
my mutilated madness
is like dying without understanding
the allegory of mercy.

He wants to understand what hides
under soft satin skin and apathy.
I see it in the way the crumpled lines on his forehead
form question marks when I cry
because there was never a reason
nor answer
as to why my heart always seemed
to perpetuate the memory
of autumn.

No, he will never know, curious as he is,
because skin is miles
and miles
and miles deep
plummeting down to a hollow core
of sickness
of sorrow
of solitude
that could dissolve all of his worries
but never my own.

Plausible

The first time you mentioned forever,
I attempted to measure it.

Just how far can heartstrings stretch
when tugged by the blur of passing seasons,
extended arms, and miles of uncharted tomorrows?

No matter how many times I have watched
hands embrace the seconds of fleeting time
I still wonder if a moment exists
when they will finally tire of spinning, trying to find
salvation in the rotation of infinity

if it even exists.

Forever
making pit stops at sixteen at seventeen
in yesterdays expired and the blood red rush
of exhausted mistake.
Forever
smoke seeping through door cracks,
fires of promise, of passion, of fading
Forever
we will love
Forever
until our names run dry of meaning.

Just how many heartbeats does it take
to shelter an angel,
how many words exchanged does it take
to murder the demons that wish to place
years and age and affliction
between the two who have painted
a thousand forevers between hands
held so tightly that minds forget how to change?

I am still trying to measure even now,
as we glide toward moments whose horizons
we will always be searching for.

SHEDDING SKIN

Sometimes victory is the first step. The turn of a doorknob. The cry for help. Victory is finally getting up to eat dinner after crying silently on your bedroom floor when the weight of the world collects like dictionaries upon your shoulders. It is eating that bowl of ice cream anyway, even when the same voices that have haunted you for years keep attempting to shrink you into a skeleton shadow. It is dressing up in the morning when all you want to do is let scorching hot water carve paths down your spine, forgetting the sound of all the voices you have ever heard because it causes you to wonder just when yours disappeared. It is reading a poem in front of your class, hands and voice shaking like palm trees in hurricane wind. It is realizing that some people will pretend to understand the fire of your soul yet cower in your presence due to the terror of getting burned. It is realizing that you are not immune to this, susceptible to creating madness in the nights you keep searching for, but cannot find, any air left to breathe.
It is admitting you are weak. It is choosing to believe the I-love-yous even when they hang above your head like chandelier glass. It is falling asleep shattered yet committed to wake up anyway. Victory is hidden in the idea that tomorrow, as lonely as today has painted it,

 

exists.

From Up Above

The first steps you take as you enter the immaculate hallways of the first cathedral in Rome are the last ones taken out of fear.

Fear, you had always been full of it, of potential abandonment and quivering voices.

But here, the arches have beckoned years upon years of marveling, of eyes cast upward at staggering golden ceilings, light reflecting through the brilliance of violet stained glass.

This is the moment in which you realize that bravery exists in the aftermath. Just hours ago, you had boarded the suffocating plane all by yourself, red sneakers and matching suitcase, departing the same home that kept you calm for so long. With shaking hands and a hammering heart, you are buzzing with static electricity you were too afraid to understand before this moment.

Peeking out of the claustrophobic airplane window, you realize just how small you are, how microscopic everything seems just as soon as it has been defeated. And though your worries have taken shelter as a lump in your throat, they soon dissolve like sugar cubes in hot tea.

There is nothing left but tranquility.

Cascading blankets of translucent white hang daintily through the glass, blinding the plummeting ground from existence. This is the first time you have ever let yourself taste freedom.

And then, while your neck cranes down at the indigo expanse below you, you realize that the same blue is no longer taking shelter inside of your bones. Blue no longer runs through the paths of veins in your hands or in the moments in class you wished you would have said something but never did. Blue no longer remembers your writing and how easy it was to fit solitude in between the letters.

Blue, instead, is all around you, oceans below your feet like a collection of everything you were too heavy to hold onto.

Somewhere, miles and hours behind you, your mother is cooking dinner. She will leave an extra bowl of Monday night soup at your place at the dinner table, an accidental broth you will never taste. Your father’s heavy eyelids have collapsed, television humming white noise, cat on his shoulder as the peach-colored dusk melts into the room.

Yet you were there,

suspended miles of infinities above the same ocean you fell in love with back when you were even smaller than before. Back when your big brown eyes followed paths in the heavens, the soft glide of the ones brave enough to shuttle toward new horizons, redefining the notion of reckless abandon.

And now, you are here.

You are one of them.

Captivated, enveloped in the shadows of the masterpieces that have aged over thousands of lives that will never meet yours. You are a pioneer of your first real experience, marble statues and pillars the sole witnesses of your rebirth.

They are haunting, breathtaking, faces painted gracefully upon crumbling walls in colors that once made souls tremble in the same skies you had dreamed of, and then dreamed in.

You are here, surrounded by memories of light. And for a couple of moments tied together by blind hope, you forget that darkness once knew you by name.