For a long time I did not know how to write good poems anymore
Only the kind that knocks the breathe out of you
We think if we write pretty about what hurts,
Then the words we are too scared to say won’t choke us,
Won’t wrap themselves around our mortal little necks and hold tight
Like how close Medusa’s snakes wrapped around her head
Which is to say Poseidon raped Medusa;
Which is to say snakes like these won’t stop hissing anytime soon
Unfortunately there is no way to turn this story into stone
There was no way to turn that boy into stone
There is no healing in this silence.
I only write about what has happened to me in metaphors,
In the arrangement of words that are easy to swallow,
Being careful to never hang myself on the truth,
Making sure I never catch my own breathe in my throat
Keeping my poems a few degrees of separation from myself
Doing these things means I don’t ever have to claim it as mine
And since that night was more blackout than memory,
I have to confess I don’t want it to hurt anymore.
I used to call myself wolf, hunteress, powerful, goddess
But even wolves howl at their pain and I can barely write about mine
I wonder what that makes me?
I feel more number, statistic, caution tape, warning tale, broken glass
Than human, than woman, than survivor.
See that word, “survivor” implies I turned my body into a battleground
and turned my limbs into weaponry;
made a trigger out of my mouth and poured bullets from my throat
That was all a lie.
If I were to tell you the truth, it would be this:
I felt so damn empty that I tried to fill myself like the bottles I drank
I filled myself so full that I became the worst kind of absinthe that took my memory with it
And left an unconscious girl on a dorm room bed.
Haven’t you heard this story before?
Months later a college administrator tells me to take a leave of absence
That if I do not heal by next semester this will no longer be a suggestion
As if this battle isn’t a war, as if this battle ended the night it happened
Now when I write pretty about what hurts, I will write about it all,
The poems that threaten to smother me will be my most beautiful.
There is healing in these words, I am fixing my broken glass
I call myself human, woman, powerful, wolf
And you cannot push me under the rug of this campus, of this culture
You cannot force me into silence, I have done that to myself long enough
I will write pretty about what hurts,
I will write pretty about what you don’t want to hear,
I am tired of knocking the breathe out of myself
I am going to howl as loud as I can.
Kendall spends most days feeling like she was meant to be a cat. You can catch her laughing at something that isn’t that funny and drinking coffee. She is still learning how to stick up for herself which is why she writes about the things she should’ve said.