When I was nine
I defined myself the way that nine year olds do-
which is to say
that I didn't.
I could close my eyes and think about nothing.
I could close my eyes and hear my heartbeat thundering in hollow lungs.
Broken rungs on a broken ladder.
Tumultuous waves of emotion beat me senseless,
but I could close my eyes and think succinctly about blankness.
And not about how much it would suck if my mother killed herself.
At the time
I didn't know about her attempts to get sober,
to seek help,
to unbreak herself.
I remember fixating on the beautiful.
The type of thing that would shatter if nudged by a stray wind.
Because I could never be anything but a rock.
A foundation for my teetering family to balance on.
But, God I wanted to be pretty.
To be able to shatter on my own accord.
One day I took a bus.
And got off at a stop in Chinatown
towering statues of threatening figures reminded me of home.
a few blocks past Powell
there was a pub that would not let me in,
but I sat outside and listened to a woman cry.
She cried about her miscairage
and how God,
she wanted to go home.
She was begging.
She was probably lying,
but her sorrowfull fallacy
Oh, God, it was pretty.
Her manufactured tragedy was
It took two hours to return home by bus.
But on the way
I wrote down her plight.
The woman was the type of fragile
that doesn't last long.
The type of shattered that doesn't get repaired.
But her words were so
I suppose that
I thought about her pretty words
and I simply never stopped.