only mountains and valleys

she asks me about him
and if i’m going to marry him
and i laugh it off easily but

i want to know why
everything
literally everything
has to have
a tidy box to
reside in

lately i have to ask,
is something not important
or valuable unless you
marry it?

can we find value in things
as they are, as they develop
as they unfold
and change?

i can’t see in black and white
and there are so many dimensions to
being alive

i used to run along the cow pasture
my lungs burning in the cold winter air

i used to huddle under my blankets
my lungs breathing in my own stale air

i am both of these,
at once

i mean, there is no box
for me

only mountains and valleys

-A

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healing

TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault

i find it in music
and self-expression

singing
crimson lipstick
mint nail polish, always chipping

still, i won’t wash my hair
*******
you are one thing, they say
you are a body
you must obey
and brush, shave, primp
tweeze, curl, straighten
cut, paint, dye, wax
apply, wash
scrub, blend

woman, you must
bleed
quietly
and
remain hidden
*******
i am a body,
for now
*******
in the background
at my desk
i fell asleep to the drone of
obsolete ideas

the old testament teaches
an eye for an eye
and Jesus said
thou shall not
steal

my catholic school uniform
white prep school collar, yellow pit stains
weekly mass,
asleep

amen, the body of Christ rose from the dead
I believe,
for now
*******
i am seventeen

please,
teach me how to say
No, I’m not ready
Respect Me
Leave Me The Fuck Alone
when he is pulling at my jeans
belittling my body with words as sharp as knives

and all I have left in me is breathing,
in and out
in and out
*******
i am twenty

please,
teach me how to sleep after
my friend tells me
she repeated no, no
over and over
*******
i am twenty-three

please,
teach me how to console
my roommate
who is still living in the past
as she came to and saw his shadow above her
through the darkness
******
i am twenty-five

please,
teach me how to explain
to my boyfriend’s friend
that it is not up to him to decide
how a person feels about their body, their pronouns,
their own self-expression
******
i’ve seen my sisters’ bodies
torn apart by expectations
and cruel, irreverent hands

i’ve seen tears
enough to
drink in our sorrow for
the rest of my days

hearts strewn, but our hands together
i’ve watched us
rise from the dead

not quiet, not hidden
open, bleeding, wounded

healing

Womankind

I can tell you what it means to be a woman today –

bell hooks taught me
the personal is political
maybe I rebel
by staying single
I cut my hair shorter
wear my glasses bigger
and I will get that tattoo
because they tell me not to
I met a man once
just once
with a tattoo
read bell hooks
they tell me a crescent moon
would look trashy
like they actually know the things
that have shaped and changed me:

They started calling her Cocaine Girl.
Hot mess. So sad.
How were you ever friends with her?
How do I explain that she has saved me so many times?
Maybe they have never had to
Quietly admit that what he did was assault
And have “Cocaine Girl” be one of the
Only ones to believe them.

And then there’s my cousin
Who when driving sometimes
Considered crashing into the guardrail
So sincerely that it scared her
And she called me in a panic
Because she was sure it was the medicine
But she needed the medicine
To live with what he did.

Like Walt Whitman
I think I could turn and live with the animals
Because then maybe I would not have to
Be asked to justify
Why I wore a hat
Why I said no to the date
Why I chose that dress
Why I (we)
Women are constantly evolving!

(I used to wear flowery bandanas
Every day to class
Like a hippie would
And my best friend loved it
So I posted our photo
As a testament to female friendship
But then I was asked to justify
Why I was comfortable looking like a lesbian
As if that were a bad thing.)

I just think that
Maybe
If they listened
More bluegrass
Less rap
They would see
There is more to life
Than relationships and sex,

Ask me about my
Travels
Writing
Language learning
Cooking
What book I am reading
Instead!

It is like I am an
Alien Girl
But I will continue being an
Alien Girl
For womankind.

-L