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we are the ghosts of our cold home / i have never felt like my own person

She tells me that as a baby, I stood in my crib and peeped over the top of the bars, silent and patient, waiting for sight of an open eye before belting my first wail of the morning. I was thoughtful, I was considerate, I was the infant who wanted my first word, no matter how incoherent, to mean something, none of this screaming into the open air with violent intentions and no grasp of control; I was all about control, and I stood there, as a baby, for who knows how long. I stood there:

 

“mother may I”

 

and grew up to be the disappointing daughter, the prodigal firstborn who failed to fulfill the prophecy, I was no chosen one, I was nothing but a pile of potential under a cocoon of brown skin and myopic eyes

 

“mother may I”

 

I didn’t know you could cross the street diagonally in boston until I was standing at the edge of the sidewalk,  my life not quite at a crossroads, and the pedestrians going horizontal had the okay and the pedestrians going vertical had the okay and was there ever a wrong way to walk? no one walks in ninety degrees because the fastest way anywhere is a straight line but I am all about these detours, these delays, these sorry-not-sorry inconveniences, these procrastinations, these never-have-I-evers

 

“mother may I”

 

just like I didn’t know that if you skipped enough meals your body would give up on you, on the thought, like two disappointed parents finding out you’re not going to graduate on time, and then even the smell of food is nauseating, and you realize you have the power to eat or not to eat, you are all about control, I am holding the remote control and changing channels

 

“mother may I”

 

to a show that everyone says my family should have, where are you going with all those teeth in your mouth, all that sorrow in your palms, how many hearts are you going to break with eyes like that, please stop looking at me, looking at me, look how much of me is waiting to be branded like a slave in the old days, all this brown skin, all this war, all this depression

 

“helium helium helium helium helium helium helium”

 

I still don’t know what happens to balloons that little kids lose hold of, as I so often did. I mean, I do—they pop at a certain point in the atmosphere, don’t they? the broken rubber floats down to reality, thanks to gravity, I guesss, and here we are

 

but I want to go up and up and up and no one wants to hear me talk about dying but I want to talk about it and I want to be detailed because when I am alone I plan the moment, like how there will be this beautiful song in the background on repeat and I will lay on the ground until my breath gets shallow, and no longer will I have to ask for permission

 

“mother may I”

 

she will never say yes. (will she ever, will she ever) she will never
say yes.