a prayer for early mornings


I can’t remember the last time I cried,
but I can remember the feeling
of an empty chest. Seven in the morning
and the rest of the world is asleep,
and I am afraid of dying, of living
without wanting to. My grandmother

tells me I am a poet, and all poets
are like this, this thousandth night,
this crawling-under-the-covers feeling.
All poets forget the Möbius strip of time.
I bite my tongue. I won’t say it’s true. 
I am stubborn, I am in love
with the idea that I will be nineteen forever.

And I’ve lived another year past
the year I thought I would die.
I’m alive, and there is no cure,
no warm darkness, no purity.
I think of how no one ever told me
it was this hard, the twist of the gut, 
the cold fingers,
the chapped lips, the winter
and the heat of memory.

I touch my stomach and recite
the things I try to believe:
If my lungs give out, good.
If I wake up and my blankets
have swallowed my body whole,
good. And if the soft skin of my thighs

turns wrinkled and thin with age, good.
If I die without knowing I have lived,
without letting myself forgive
those who have harmed me, good.

The world is not meant to hold me
when I’m afraid,
but I will name the blur of days passing by
something kinder than forgiveness,
something more earnest, more true.

This poem is about: 


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