You looked at me and only saw what you wanted to see —
soft petals touched by sun,
flowers complacent in beauty.
You buried the parts of me that have yet to grow,
that are still seeds waiting for
and salt water.
You uprooted parts of me from body and left the rest to die.
You forced me to swallow your words
when you did not like mine.
I thought that I was the writer,
but you are the actor that knows how to perform words,
breathe life into words off a script,
and captivate an audience.
A one-man performance for a one-man audience.
You ran lines with me,
silly crazy bitch.
You rehearsed them so often
that I had them memorized.
silly crazy bitch
Your words assaulted me,
entered me without permission,
sharpened the panic I felt swelling inside my chest,
wrapped themselves around my lungs, constricting breath.
You left me to drown in my own breath,
breath so shallow I was barely there.
Do you taste the bitterness left by words on your tongue?
I feel your words
in moments when I want to forget.
They surface in solitude
and remind me that I am not enough.
I open my mouth
and instead of my own voice,
I hear yours.
I cut chords until I all I hear is silence
and I become silenced.
The words I write,
one by one,
they reclaim the ones you forced me to swallow.
Take the words that you sliced me open with
and write them into a poem.
and sprinkle salt water
in between words,
in blank spaces waiting for truths to unfold.
Watch seeds grow from your neglect,
seeds that rebirth power.
Inspired by Sugarwater Salve: Healing for Healers writing prompts, The Root Slam writing workshop, and Beyoncé’s Lemonade.