Still Growing

I lived three years on a dusty trundle bed,

In a small room.

A lock on the window.


I would cry myself into dreams shroud in dust.

Dust as thick as the flem blocking my windpipe.

I’d cough until my ribs hurt,

And cry until I couldn’t breathe at all.


My depression met my chronic bronchitis in a firm handshake-

they helped me make myself a captive in my own bed.

Feeling like I could only spit out words and flail my calloused hands.


I would lay on that dusty mattress thinking everything about nothing

Wondering when my body would just give up and let my mind go free.

If I believed in a god would they come save me?

Did I deserve to be saved?


I thought I could romanticize my pain and build it into something.

But walls can’t be built on the backbones of broken parents

or the grabbing hands of touch starved kids.


When your parents tear your family apart you learn quick how to care for yourself.

Otherwise you’ll end up drowning in water only a foot deep,

And as the muddy waters clogs your lungs you’ll look up and finally see your parents for who they are-

Lonely, watery monsters consumed in their fear, their own sadness-

Things you should never have to worry about as a fifteen year old.


If I wasn’t thinking of my own perfect suicide I was looking for an escape.

I picked up just about every “hobby” I could:

Theater, art, poetry, guitar, and songwriting.


Being active made me feel like I was little again-

Grabbing at the dark in hopes of finding a firefly in your hand


I figured I could at least work myself to death.

The maybe there would be something other than a quote on my gravestone.


I would work for my uncle on his blueberry farm during the summer.

Mindless labor that left my back sore, skin burnt and hands scarred.


I would ride my bike there when I couldn't get my sister to drive me-

because anything was better than being home.


Home was where my mattress waited to jail me until the sun came back up.


Home was where I slid food down my throat until I felt better.


Home was remembering how my mother’s smile hid a backhanded insult.


Home was flooding my mind with happy memories and wringing the dopamine out of them until they were as grey as I was.


Home was locking my shreds of happiness away in an attempt to protect it from soft hands that smelled like vanilla lotion and megalomania.


So I worked my ass off ripping weeds out of thorny blackberries,

mowing over dandelions, and butterflies.

Destroying beautiful things in an effort to make room to grow something missing from my heart.


When the court said I could live with my dad I felt liberated.

As if my life during those three years was only a blanket of mud coating a hidden oyster bed pull of pearls.

Opportunities I never had to shine without a borrowed light.


Suddenly I was growing again.

Sharing my art, opening up, making up for three years of critical growth I didn’t get.


Three years is a long time for a kid.

That makes me glad I’ve grown up,

Because now three years lays as a smudge of paint in this abstract painting.

I don't care how hard it'll be.

I’m still growing.


This poem is about: 
My family


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