who is it that poets write to when they write to you? vivisect themselves at the feet of you. lay broken limbs and burnt flesh at the altar of you.

You who boiled the broth of suffering disguised as love, took clumps of her hair in your hand and said “Open your mouth, eat.”

You who broke the people’s hearts on the operating table and set their fingers on fire by dipping them into hell. You who married their sisters and fooled their fathers then fell apart in their canoe on the great lake and drowned everyone with you.

You who painted their dreams in every colour but black ; white lead, cadmium yellow, eminence, fluorescent pink, damask, saffron, cobalt blue, vermilion, but not black. And told the children to never colour outside the lines and speak only when spoken to. Told them stories of storks spitting fire from the skies and those flames lighting the cigars of men and causing forest fires that burnt down villages and towns and cities.

You who laughed in white and drew pictures of old maids in nun’s clothes.

You with the bulging pockets and expensive oud to mask the telling scent of greed.

You who played your violin loudly but not loud enough to mask the sound your fists made when they collided with her ribs.

Is it you who hid the knives when i slashed my wrists and ankles and held me while i wailed for weeks and told me to stay and keep breathing together with you for a while longer? You who pumped me full of medicine and wine and prose, kissed me with honeydew lips and told me “everything will be bright again. you will create spring in yourself and everything will be fine, you’ll see.”

Is it you, the girl who matched her lipstick with her hijab and screamed love into every hollow space? you who never knew when to stop giving to people who only asked for more and more and more. Have they finally stripped you of your kindness? Do your eyelids creak shut every night? Are your feet the colour of rust?

  • the young boy who crosses into alternate dimensions every evening through the old quilt hanging on his bedroom wall.
  • the young girl who braids stars into her hair every morning and sees the fairies and angels and the unraveling of new light from old things.
  • the woman who gives names to the raindrops on her cheeks.
  • the man who tastes bile in his mouth when the sun comes up.

A younger me, the me in the middle, an older me,

this is who i write to when i write to you.

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