What We Are Not
Listen, you are not
What has happened.
You are not, and I am not.
You are not your cracked ribs
Or the parents who did not want you
Or the fire they started
Or your own body, unconscious.
I am not
The blood I washed out of my hair
Three weeks ago.
I am not my shaking hands
Or the knuckle marks
Inside my thighs
I am not
That feeling of choking, like there is packing material under my tongue,
Like I’ve licked all the envelopes
And now everything is dry and tastes somewhat like glue
I am not my inability to breathe
We are nobody’s beatings.
We are nobody’s temper.
We are nobody’s closed fist but our own.
You are not the gratuitous cruelty
Hoisted upon you.
You still have everything you arrived with.
Nothing has been taken from us
Because you cannot take
A piece of a person
They do not choose to put it
We are not
Or our fear
Or our unlearning
Or our broken teeth
We are fires. Entire forests worth of fires, we are
And we are pushing on the pillars
Of this structure
We are the water cutting its way through
We are every inhalation we have taken
We are not our backs to any walls.
We are not anybody’s trembling.
palpable, you are