there’s a reason they call us
“survivors” and “warriors.”
We wake up in the middle of the night,
eyes staring into the glow-in-the-dark stars we pasted long ago
We pass by strangers on the street—
or are they just that, because they have
a nose just like—
hair just so—
and we wilt and shrink in our coats.
Sometimes it’s hard to eat our dinner
or focus on anything
but the beer bottle label we had been peeling apart.
But we still wake up,
crack our backs, brush our teeth,
and put on our shoes.
Sometimes they’re the good shoes
with toes sharp as daggers
to kill the cockroaches with.
Sometimes they’re heavy boots
steel-toed and smelling of engine oil
heavy and loud.
And sometimes it’s the old Keds,
no longer white but an amalgamation
of puddles and grass stains
and yellow marker from all the times we were bored to tears.
We pull on these sorts of shoes
and many others, too,
and walk out the door
with our battle cry bursting from our lips: I EXIST.