I USED TO CHASE SEVENTEEN

like a dead boyfriend, a once-in-a-lifetime comet, a derailed train.
Craved the bubblegum taste of prom night, cutting jagged bangs
in the bathroom mirror, trying to grow out the bleached ends
I ruined during a manic episode. Back then there was no diagnosis
for the days I spent screaming at the neighbor’s lawnmower, too
loud too much too terrifying!
I was at war with everything, with
the sweaters I ripped up with bare hands when I felt too fat
too rectangular too graceless
to be loved, much less held, to go
to ballet class. I was an open wound bleeding and no amount
of pressure could stop that river. I used to chase seventeen
as if it were beautiful. As if it were photographable, easy, soft
to the touch. But I lived seventeen and almost didn’t, teased
an ending too many times to find it laughable, searched for
comfort in the hearts of those who’d end up murdering mine.

I surrender you, seventeen. You’ve had your time, your war,
your glory. I only see you in pictures now and that’s enough.

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