Graphite Labyrinth

I was fourteen years old when Sierra DeMulder

and Lacey Roop took the cracking dirt clump that sleeps

in my ribcage, and spoon fed it rose water and crushed eggshells.

I learned “today means amen in every language” and “love is what’s in 

the room with you at Christmas when you stop

opening presents and listen” 

and I felt something sprout.

Razors were (almost) completely replaced by pencil scratches

on blue lines like the veins I was giving a

vacation of safety and distraction.

Button Poetry became my soaps and

recording my toxicity on loose leaf became 

the only thing I ever wanted to believe in   

because god, I wanted to spin gold

that could cure a broken heart

or my plummeting self-esteem.

I wrote for myself to justify the state of my right wrist,

romanticizing the blood, wanting to die,

post breakup depression

it took a summer spent in an adolescent psych hospital,

526 miles, and too much ibuprofen plus lukewarm orange soda equals 

the end, but I was never good at that kind of math.

The sprouts in my ribs grew weeds, white puffs of dandelions

blew away that summer and I eventually got the peonies to bloom like I wished for.

The paper that kept my poems tied down went from

smelling like old shrimp to peach tea and

the feathery brown hair on my baby brother’s head, the same

sandy shade as my own.

I still write in labyrinths, cross my fingers and hope I don’t sound

like I’m trying too hard to be obscure like 

banana flavored cashew milk and Portland School of Astrology,

but whether she tastes like lemon meringue or vinegar 

I need her long nights between sheets with scrambled ideas

and eraser shavings until two in the morning

her voice comes through every writer in thunder, a calm tide or velvet.

She’s a harp made of heart strings plucked in time with

snapping fingers and an audience so thick with silence you can hear

the static crackle low against the booming of her voice

she’s my pulse every starless night but

the stars told me to write.

I found a voice in dandelions and peonies in a blank page

when all else failed

to paint the picture.

This poem is about: 


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