Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bleed--A Poem

This one just poured out today.


“How are you?”
“Okay. Fine. Good. Great. And yourself?”
“Doing well. Pretty good.”
 Smiles all around.
 Too wide, too open, too perfect.
 Too much.

I want to know what you’re really thinking.
I want to know what’s behind those words, what’s behind that smile.
I want to know why you went to all that trouble to style your hair,
to put on that makeup and jewelry and trim that beard.
I want to know why those clothes are so perfect.
I want to know what you’re covering for, what’s really going on
because I know you’re not
okay fine good great doing well pretty good.

How do I know?
Because I’m not either.

I want to crawl inside your skin
and feel the blood run through your veins like it were my own.
Not just you, but you and you and you,
and him and her and them and everyone.

I want to know what you’re hiding behind that too-wide smile.
I want to know about the promotion you didn’t get,
the date you got turned down for, the bad breakup you can’t get over.
I want to know about the death that left a hole inside your soul,
I want to know about the guilt that’s so powerful it makes you hate yourself,
the arthritis that makes you grin and bear it, the cancer that eats away at you,
the depression or anxiety you’re ashamed of,
the degenerative disease you’re desperately praying would stop degenerating.
I want to know the insignificant thing your partner does that drives you crazy,
why you hate your co-worker, how your boss is less qualified than you are.
I want to know that you hate your nose,
or that mole on your chin,
or how you hate the size of your butt, your breasts, your gut.
I want to know how insecure you are about the fact that you’re going gray at twenty.
I want to know it all.

And I want you to know that sometimes I put off important phone calls
because I’m shy and have an irrational fear of the phone.
When I order at coffee shops or restaurants I always say, “Can I”
Instead of, “I’ll have” because I don’t feel confident enough to assert myself.
I feel like I’ve spent my entire life going up on a down escalator,
and lately it seems like the escalator has sped up,
and I’ve slowed down.
I can’t help but notice that everyone I grew up with has accomplished more than I have.
I want you to know that my heart aches for my fiancé
who overdosed on heroin nine years ago.
I want you to know that I’m terrified of the future:
I’m afraid I’m not good enough, that I won’t make it, that I can’t do it,
that I’ll lose control.
I’m afraid of being alone.
I’m afraid of what will happen if or when I lose more people I love.
I want you to know that I have anxiety and depression and it’s weird and confusing.
I want you to know that I struggle with burning, agonizing chronic pain
and get little support from the doctors,
and I have these terrible migraines that make me curl up in a dark room—useless.
These are just some of the reasons why I pile on
makeup and jewelry and make sure my hair and clothes are just right.
This is why I smile and say
okay fine good great doing well pretty good.

Hey, it’s what we do, right?
You do it too.

But you’re on the verge of breaking down, aren’t you?
You’re on the verge of running out into the street and
falling on your knees and screaming and pounding the pavement
until you’re bleeding on the outside as much as you are on the inside.

When you finally do this, don’t worry.
I’ll be right there next to you.
So will you and you and you
and him and her and them and everyone.
Together we can cry and bleed
and hold one another’s pain and know
We are not alone.