By L.J. McCray

By the darkness of depression,

which is steady as anything,
I swear to you
there is more to this than all you’d swear by.

The shadow cast by the opening moonflower
reveals gradations
you see and believe.
So I say to you,

whosoever has held a hand
under moon-shade
can remember themselves — 
how little the map knows of what there be beyond its markings.

I See You Now

So, that well-made child
[hospital corners type child — 
their body is the bed
their mind is the sheet
pressed, pressed down]

is a human mask. No one
sees them
because no one
knows how

[You congratulate

do you not? 
You don’t examine it on the doctor’s table]

If the child uses “she” pronouns
no one minds if she does not speak
or if she does not try.
Buttons are pretty accessories on a girl’s lips — 
there are certain ways to wear your white privilege
[with forbearance, with grace, and in order to prove you deserve it, 
you had better SIT STILL when you’re not performing violence]

Deep sadness performs introversion — 
loneliness furls and unfurls
in a heart too young to express it.

In school we must be seen or be invisible
and there a rules upon rules for each choice.
In school we learn, yes, we learn
exactly which parts to suppress

[we press down, down
and tuck in the tight corners
and our hands
go numb
at our sides]

L.J. McCray is a writer with mental illness living in North Carolina. Her work has been published in Thing EZine and Cargoes. She has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Hollins University, as well as a master’s in Divinity from Yale Divinity School.