I’ve been taught by my mother that love is another type of cancer. The kind that kills you slowly, by infecting your organs one by one until it turns your body against itself.
And maybe there is some truth in that. I grew up watching parts of my mother disappear with each and every lover, shrinking into herself like a new sweater tumbling in the wash. That’s why I let my spine stiffen, my tongue sharpen. I built myself a suit of armor made up of excuses and wore it every day.
Please don’t come any closer. I’m fragile underneath. It’s better for both of us if you leave.
But then came you. And piece by piece, I shed my armor.
I know you can hurt me, but I trust you not to. I don’t want you to go. Please stay.
My mother would be surprised to see you and I together because instead of fading away, I become more of what I am meant to be.
I still hesitate when I say I love you because the words feel foreign in my mouth. Sometimes I don’t call back because I forget that I have someone waiting for me at home. But I am learning.
So maybe love is neither the sickness nor the cure. Maybe love is simply the catalyst.
That’s what you like in a girl:
cute and sad,
with enough disorders that you could
count them to fall asleep.
The kind you can show off at parties
as the latest broken thing you fixed.
Where will you hang your
awards for loving someone
who can’t walk in a straight line
without being supported?
Is there room next to your
collection of glasses you shattered
by holding them too tightly?
The blood on your hands
does not make you a martyr.
Do not curse when your hammers
do nothing but scar her.
Do not use your words
to remind her that everybody else
would have left by now.
If she could speak, she would tell you:
you think it’s beautiful to love
somebody as light as me
but you don’t know how heavy I had to be
to become this empty.
I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forever’s. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid
of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.
Leaving is not enough. You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are papier mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.
1. Do not kill yourself. Killing yourself is very messy and your mother will cry over you. It is not beautiful or brave, and even if it was, you will not be around to see that.
2. Washing your hair is going to be a chore. But you should do it anyway. Because you will feel better about yourself.
3. Get up late. Have a lay in. Sleep past your alarm. You have a very long life ahead of you and for now you should appreciate the cold side of your pillow.
4. He is going to break your heart but he’s just another male human who finds it hard to deal with Mondays, too. So in a month you’ll wake up and you won’t even remember that little scar on his knuckle you kissed.
5. Don’t spend hours looking up what your name means on google. Your name is your name and you should go out there and do heroic and good deeds and give your name your own meaning.
6. Don’t fight your demons. Your demons are here to teach you lessons. Sit down with your demons and have a drink and a chat and learn their names and talk about the burns on their fingers and scratches on their ankles. Some of them are very nice.
7. Music is good for your soul. Rap music will energise you and boost your ego and pop music will cheer you up. Indie music will make you think and emotional songs will make you cry and think about that boy again. It’s healthy.
8. Victim complexes are not attractive. Boys and girls will not date you because you are sad. They are not going to date you and kiss your aching bones and cure you of your dragging depression. Wake up. Take a bath. Do your hair. Be attractive.
9. Sadness is not poetic. Depression is not beautiful. Laying in bed all day and eating too much is lazy and disgusting and it is not tragic or pretty. Get up. Go outside. Let the sun warm your bones. Live.
10. If it makes you happy, buy twenty of it. Dedicate your life to it. Print it on tv shirts and collect things and draw art of it. Do not care what people think. They are the unhappy people you need to avoid. The abuse they will hurl at you is painless compared to how sad they are. Pity them. Remain happy.
11. You are allowed to he angry. But the world is not working against you. The flowers do not bloom for you and when your mother shouts ask her if she is okay instead of thinking she hates you. She never will. The world walks beside you and is silent. It does not trip you up or carry you.
12. Day and night cycles are natural. Humans only sleep at night because we used to avoid predators in the dark because of our poor eyesight. Stay awake until 5am watching bad reality shows. Wake up at 7pm and have breakfast.
13. Eat when you are hungry. Being bored does not constitute a chocolate bar. Sleep with you are tired. Do not mindlessly obey the sleep at night rule. If you are not tired, do not sleep.”
You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but let’s be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul but fractures to put their love into is the most calming thing in this world.
Love will tell you “You are beautiful”, and mean it.
Over and over again.
“You are beautiful.”
When you first wake up, “You are beautiful.”
When you’ve just been crying, “You are beautiful.”
When you don’t wanna hear it, “You are beautiful.”
When you don’t believe it, “You are beautiful.”
When nobody else will tell you, “You are beautiful.”
Love still thinks you are beautiful.
But Love is not perfect and will sometimes forget.
When you need to hear it most, “You are beautiful.”
Do not forget this.
Love is not who you were expecting.
Love is not what you can predict.
Maybe Love is in New York City, already asleep.
You are in California, Australia, wide awake.
Maybe Love is always in the wrong time-zone.
Maybe Love is not ready for you.
Maybe you are not ready for Love.
Maybe Love just isn’t the marrying type.
Maybe the next time you see Love is 20 years after the divorce.
Love looks older now, but just as beautiful as you remember.
Maybe Love is only there for a month.
Maybe Love is there for every firework.
Every birthday party.
Every hospital visit.
Maybe Love stays.
Maybe Love can’t.
Maybe Love shouldn’t.
Love arrives exactly when Love is supposed to.
And Love leaves exactly when Love must.
When Love arrives, say,
“Welcome. Make yourself comfortable.”
If Love leaves, ask her to leave the door open behind her.
Turn off the music. Listen to the quiet.
Whisper, “Thank you for stopping by.”
Do not fall in love
With people like me.
people like me
will love you so hard
that you turn into stone
into a statue where people
come to marvel at how long
it must have taken to carve
that faraway look into your eyes
Do not fall in love with people like me
we will take you to
museums and parks
and kiss you in every beautiful
place so that you can
never go back to them
without tasting us
like blood in your mouth
Do not come any closer.
people like me
when our time is up
we will splatter loss
all over your walls
in angry colors
that make you wish
your doorway never
learned our name
do not fall in love
with people like me.
with the lonely ones
we will forget our own names
if it means learning yours
we will make you think
hurricanes are gentle
that pain is a gift
you will get lost
in the desperation
in the longing for something
that is always reaching
but never able to hold
do not fall in love
with people like me.
we will destroy your
we will throw apologies at you
that shatter on the floor
and cut your feet
we will never learn
how to be soft
we will leave.
we always do.