10 Ways To Survive It
Don’t speak of the monsters
digging their teeth into your grey matter.
Don’t speak about their lightning,
how it will strike you more than once.
Take showers in the dark,
hot enough to burn your skin,
hot enough to make the air thick.
When no one is listening deem it safe to cry,
but realize your eyes are plasticine thumb indents
dug in and left to harden
There are no tears here.
Get used to not sleeping.
Wander the halls at night a spirit someone has unearthed.
If you can move without being heard,
you can pretend you don’t exist.
You are the tree that fell in the forest.
No one is around.
No one is around.
Your forced smile is not a radio signal
sent out into the night that a stranger will pick up
and fine-tune the static out of.
Your body was made to absorb.
Your arms and legs; the breasts; the rest —
soft enough to survive being reshaped
— no cause to break at the point of impact.
Use poems like a way to sing the blood to the surface;
drawing blue from red hues — use poems so your hurt
is not alone.
Steal flowers from graveyards.
Do not feel bad about this.
You’ve had to learn to harvest beauty from wherever you can find it.
It’s almost easy to imagine they would want you to have it —
the dead that can feel your chill in the dark of the night,
prowling the rows, picking Forget-Me-Not’s for the memories
you have grown to make space for.
Do not miss what is gone.
Remember the bathwater.
Remember the skin; the dirt that ringed the tub,
the way you thought then that it was body-rust.
Teach yourself enough about endings to know this is not one —
that your heart is not a book you can shut against the wind of time.
Let go of the notion that this is a story that will unfold in a linear fashion.
You will find yourself both a girl and woman many times
over the course of one day.
Swear you won’t let it change you.
On a Sunday night you find yourself laughing
and try not to feel guilty, like you are not allowed this,
like this was supposed to never return —
Happiness –like a lost dog that keeps finding its way home
caked in mud and lousy with burrs.
It crawls into your lap to be held.
It licks your face.
You feed it — let it sleep in your bed — spend the night
reminding yourself to patch the hole in the fence
where it keeps on escaping.
Katrina Gray is a twenty-six year-old Canadian who is fulfilling the prophecy, as foretold by her sixth grade teacher, to write. She’s never one to back down from a feminist argument, or a long binge of character driven TV. She suffers from existential angst, always losing her pen lids, and thinking of the perfect line just before she falls asleep. She’s had one poem previously published at Words Dance Publishing.