I Am Not Unique In This

By Jessica Manuszak


I want to layer on paint, thick and relentless on the canvas, letting it dry only to scrape my nails down the front, forcing pieces of chipped history into the soft underbelly of my fingernails. Glimpses of creativity embedded in my skin.

I want to taste a vinyl record. Snap it into tiny bits and suck on the sharp edges, memorizing the ridges with my tongue the way I’ve memorized the ridges imprinted on the roof of my mouth.

I want to crack my ribs open, splay them wide, and slice my lungs. Tear out the favorite pages of my favorite books, stuffing them inside myself as the corners fold and crinkle to make way for more words that have long made up my whole world.

I want violence in my limbs. Not to hurt, but to catalyze the action that vibrates in my bones like the blurred and furious wings of a hummingbird, scream into the void until my throat bleeds and fall asleep under the stars, the taste of copper coating my teeth and knowing I’ve ripped myself ragged for the simple sake of living.

I want to give every single fucking ounce I have, splash it out onto the cracked sidewalk from the safety of a tin bucket, weeds weaving through, and fill the cupped hands of strangers with that electric feeling we all get in our gut.


I am not unique in this.


I know you’ve felt the fire, that need to memorize the sweat rivering down the planes of your back and your hands plowing roughly into the dirt, only to wash yourself clean at the tap. I know you’ve taken shallow breaths in bed, not from the sexuality of touches, but from the weight of your own potential resting soundly on your chest.

And I know you’re ready to ignite. Combust into dust that blows away in the wind, coating every single surface, and leaving a small — yet profound — impact in your persistent wake.

You have the capacity to change everything. Every morning that you open your crusted eyes to the blinding stripes of light breaking through the dusty blinds, you’re altering a part of the world that has never been altered in quite the same way. You have the tiny revelations that we all need to hear. And you have my heart, mundane in its mechanics, but pure, nonetheless.

The time to play it safe is not a time that has ever existed.

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