Letter to My Middle School Self
Remember your mother laughing
at the bitter leaf hugged
between slices of ham and cheese
in your sandwich. Thirteen, yet
you can’t tell
lettuce apart from cabbage.
When bleached-blonde tips and
a Mountain Dew T-shirt fill
your chest with helium
until the only air you breathe
is him, she will try to convince you
that you are too young to fall in love.
Trust me, she’ll say, you’ll
understand when you’re older
as she pulls from the pocket of your
polka-dotted backpack the
Valentine’s Day themed
box of heart-shaped chocolates.
But six years from now,
you will be standing
in the produce section
between piles of leafy green
and still not know the difference.
She sits at the edge of the tub.
Glacial waterfall cascades down her legs, numbing
delicate flesh to pink razor blade. She tames the
cactus needles creeping beneath her skin,
satisfied only at the feel of silk.
She runs a comb through the wet tangles in her hair.
Bottle after bottle, she sprays each six inches from her scalp.
Orange to condition, red to cure split-ends, green to protect
from the desert heat of hair dryer and straightener.
Her mother warns, “You’ll be bald by thirty-two.”
She dips a brush in powdered shades of sun-kissed
and paints a porcelain face over adolescent blemishes.
Fills in dark brown in the empty spaces of brow, humming
under her breath the familiar chant of cosmetics:
Lip-plumping, volumizing, age-defying, flawless.
Glued-on mascara lashes, merlot-stained lip,
pink and purple palette add the final touches.
All dolled up–not too much but just enough.
She unhinges the straps of her little black dress.
Tucks herself into the revealing thin fabric and
flattens out the creases around the circumference
of her hips. Origami is an art form she learned to perfect,
folding away the parts of herself that she wishes
to keep from the rest of the world.
She looks back at her polished reflection.
Painted face, hollow limbs. Sturdy plastic mannequin.
Pretty girl, there she is.
Talk to Me
The conversation begins with the parting of lips.
Your hips, unstifled by tongue against teeth,
interrogate the space between my thighs.
I feel your desperate questions,
roll in like tides, but by now
I’ve forgotten how to speak.
Drowning in a symphony of your
breath heavy on the back of my neck,
I am lost inside your ocean.
Mouths gaping, toes curling,
the weight of our bodies
pushing and pulling.
Bone against bone, still
clawing for intimacy.
I am drowning.
My fingernails dig anchors along
the ridges of your spine,
leaving behind crimson love letters
across the wet fabric of your skin.
From the depths of lung
come final gasps of release,
ironing out the wrinkled inflections
imprisoned in the back of our throats.
Together we beg
sound into syllables,
syllables into words,
words into sentences spelling out
that this is more than just fucking–
It is the echo of a universal language.
Written for Dr. David N. Odhiambo’s ENG 313: Intro to Creative Writing