“My right and left legs don’t match perfectly,”
So begins a long list counting the ways in which I measure up short.
My teeth have been knocked crooked
by names I could never turn into songs,
notes that latched onto the tops of incisors as I tried to sing them into clef;
refusing to leave my mouth like they were dangling from a cliff,
digging everything in their hands into the edge;
clinging, struggling the earth into shift with their desire not to fall on deaf ears.
My spine was built with as much ‘slither’ as ‘stand-tall,’ and
when I try to be more of the latter,
my ribs and vertebrae turn to a Venice Beach drum circle
before realizing they lost their song during years they spent slouched.
I am afraid of what I look like with good posture.
I am afraid that if I stand up straight I might remind you of my father
or yours, because I have been slumping since I fell from his image to this place.
If I speak to you with my chest held high, I am lying to you.
If I dare you to hit me, I am bluffing
If I tell you I love you, I mean it,
but i have never learned to love properly,
so I can’t tell you what that will feel like.
I only know hard, fast, reckless, overwhelming, unrequested, unrequited.
The kind that perches above you just outside of your periphery; strikes without warning or probable cause, and often without justification.
The kind of love that is always lonely.
that you wish had just stayed likes and smiles and winks and light,
it grows up and reminds you of the fact that thunder is indicative of electrocution.
The kind of love you wish would leave, because you didn’t invite it over and are too nice to keep your door dead-bolted;
not built for newcomers, who might give it up entirely because of one bad trip like: “If that’s what it is, then I’m just going to buy a puppy.”
I’ve never felt like I knew God, or even that God was knowable to me,
but still I searched for him in the backs of mouths, and crooks of necks, and the places where wings would attach to rib cages…
In the smalls of backs, and in the soft flesh between inner thigh and altar.
I wrote one hundred prayers before I realized I was writing love poems for you.
So I stopped writing prayers and started drawing your picture.
And I stopped asking God for help.
This probably should have topped the list, though.