when i was five, 

   anxiety disorder laced in my genetics,

i couldn’t fall asleep until i whispered a prayer,

    tears and snot dripping onto my pillowcase,

so god would protect me from the nightmares

    that rose because my mother swore,

and i read too many books about how

    everyone is at risk of spontaneous combustion,

but the praying kept my family


when i was six,

    i stopped praying,

because i figured out that the only person pressed with their

    ear to my door, 

listening as i begged for my family’s lives,

    was my grand-dad,

eager to comfort me in the shape of

    twirling my hair and holding my hand,

nestled on his lap under the pressure

    of his own bony limb, 

and the theory that he would never hurt me.


when i was seven,

    i didn’t understand why he told me,

hands smitten with my aristocats nightgown’s rising hem,

    that nobody would ever love me like he did,

and i also didn’t understand

    why, if he loved me so much, were his hugs and caresses

our little secret,

    like the tickling between my legs,

or the diet sodas mommy never let me drink,

    out of fear that i could turn out

fucked up, from the inside


when i was eight,

    we moved away, clean-line suburb to dirty small town,

because mommy didn’t want us there anymore,

    though daddy stayed, forwarding birthday cards 

from the first man to tell me i was nothing without him.

    mom refused to answer when i asked,

"why can’t we see grandpa?"

    but the way that she looked when i asked

taught me something about him was wrong,

   and to never ask again,

that his existence was something to


when i was a teenager,

    i stopped believing in god,

because i realized that

    god doesn’t let breathing fossils

pop their granddaughter’s cherry,

   and that my brain had been so used to hiding information,

it stopped the progression of my memory center,

    so i can’t remember where i was last tuesday,

but i also can’t recall exactly what happened

    to my darling aristocat nightgown,

that i would clench over my knees

    when i heard the door open,

and my prayers



Chelsea Jeannette

You are an incredible poet. Thank you for sharing this.


You should keep writing. This poem is really good.

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