writings!: sunglasses

sunglasses

shaded. jaded. eighty bucks to be an icon, or maybe a cat. round red ones for that crown-of-thorns look,

aviators because you ache to go high,

pink heart shaped ones if you’re a girl who wants to see the world brighter.

your face is shrinking and your freckles blaze, sweat and tears and plastic won’t stop sliding down your nose and you keep trying to push them up but i guess they’re too big?

lenses are darker than undereye circles.

novelty glasses at the tourist store in florida and everyone’s worried about you, but who can tell when there’s beer bottles around the edges of the lenses, take a picture sister and maybe you’ll try it someday…?

then there’s the classics which never looked good on you, fake ray-ban ovals glinting like hummingbird eggs on the edges but when you push them up hawks dig their talons into their hair and i can see scalp

pink heart shaped ones if you want the world to see you brighter,

they broke last six months ago and won’t stay on straight, but maybe you can glue them back together.

you have another pair but they aren’t the same.

for now, you stick to sunscreen. your eyes burn and peel. your face dresses itself in satin.

 

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writings!: maybelline

steam rises like smog in the darkness. i do not know where it is going. my hair is wet at the ends, but my crown is still dry because the water is too hot to dunk my whole head into.

one of the four other girls in the hot tub kicks me underwater. edie. she’s so small her leg feels like a pool noodle, but it is colder than styrofoam. she kicks her way into the middle of the hot tub, where marion sits. marion is thirteen and angry. edie kicks marion. the underwater lights turn her body into a shadow, illuminates her baby teeth as she screams: “move, marion!”– with a lisp.

marion shoves her. edie grunts. camille laughs. camille is lying on the side of the hot tub, above the water. she is almost falling. but not quite. steady for now. the light does not reach her. her hair is stringy from the water. that is a guess. i cannot see her hair, but i know camille.

my sister is sitting quietly next to me. I cannot read her expression; her profile is a silhouette, but her infinitely long eyelashes stick out, flitting up and down once and awhile. she was born with them. or maybe it’s maybelline.

i sense she is vaguely annoyed. she does not like our cousins. they are too loud and mean and hurting.

marion stretches out her legs. she is tall and strong, with a face like her mother’s. dark eyelashes and light eyes. her feet almost reach the edges of the hot tub. they glow. “i’m fat,” she announces, chin pressed into the water.

the hot tub boils over with words. “no, you’re not,” I say the exact same time as my sister. “i’m fat!” edie parrots, jumping out of the water, and pinches her tadpole belly. camille laughs again. “you’re beautiful,” i say to edie and marion.

marion groans. “i’m not. i don’t even have a boyfriend.”

“i have a boyfriend!” edie yells. camille smacks her. “no, you don’t,” she says. edie frowns. “i do!”

marion looks at me. “she’s lying,” she says, loudly matter-of-fact. her chin sinks further into the water. “marion.” i say. “marion. you’re thirteen. it’s normal to not have a boyfriend.”

she doesn’t respond, instead slips underwater completely. “no,” says camille. “there’s girls at our school who have boyfriends. so many. and they wear shirts that are like, up to here.” she touches her ribs. “and tiny tiny shorts. and they do it on purpose. for boys.”

“boyfriends,” edie corrects from the darkness.

marion bursts out from under water, water streaming from her nose and lips and hair all at once. her eyes pop open. they are glassy. maybe it’s the light. maybe she was born with it. maybe it’s maybelline.

edie cannonballs into the middle of the hot tub. marion yelps, eyes closing fast. camille screams. my cousins are loud. they speak like balloons. bright and bloated and empty.  

“don’t slut shame,” i say, a little late.

“we’re not,” says marion. “it’s just the truth.” she takes another breath and collapses underwater.

this morning i put on mascara. i don’t know why. i did it in the bathroom, in the big mirror above the porcelain sink, cleaner than anything. i knew i wasn’t going to see anyone i cared about. but i did it anyway. habits are hard to break.

but i can feel it running off my face now. the water gives me racoon tears. i rub my smallest finger along my left eyelid, feel makeup come off. my eye stings from the chlorine. it stings from girlhood and hormones that we ooze. it stings from voices cracks. it stings from boys and my sister’s strawberry shampoo. it stings from jealousy, it stings from everything that seeps out of my cousin’s pores and swirls into the hot tub all at once.

it stings from my mascara.

fire using water like gasoline. we are all stabbing blindly with eyeliner at our faces in darkness.

i am tired.

we are so, so, tired.

maybe we were born that way. maybe it’s maybelline.

writings!: salamander in the rain

she’s crying and it’s raining but i can’t tell the difference between her tears and the sky’s. it’s hard to picture but there’s concrete under our feet and we’re a tiny bit tipsy from the beer we snuck

i don’t know why she’s crying but our pajamas are getting wet and it’s cold. it’s the middle of the night. everyone is asleep. her back patio is flooded. she sniffs.

i tell her i’m sorry, again, and she says it’s not my fault, and i don’t know what ‘it’ is and she’s killing me because every time she touches me i get a jolt of 3AM and sleepless

she’s a ride or die but she’s closer to dying

there’s twig on the ground (why are we even out here what are we doing) but on closer inspection (who the fuck investigates a twig) it’s a salamander. it’s small and very dark brown. it’s drowning. this i know from my mother. she once said something about amphibians breathing through their skin

my feet are freezing and i tell her to get a leaf to save it but she doesn’t

i don’t think amphibians breathe through their skin, either. maybe that’s just worms. fifth grade biology bleeds together and it’s hard to remember one lesson from another, one day from another, god i wish i kept a diary–

i walk over to the bush nearest bush. get a leaf. rip it off. the rain is much to loud to hear it scream.

pick up the salamander with it. it doesn’t want to. it’s slow, stub legs barely moving. maybe it doesn’t want to live. maybe it’s too tired. maybe i should just let it drown. maybe i should just let her drown.

my sweatpants are soaked. so are my feet. i don’t have a change of clothes. what am i even doing

she’s just standing there her face glittering like some kind of terrified diva

the salamander is on the leaf. stub legs not moving anymore. it’s probably in shock or something. i rise and walk back to the bush, tuck the salamander and the leaf under it so it has some shelter.

we should go, i hear myself saying to her, back inside, you need some sleep. sleep my ass, she says silently, still staring out at nothing, you know i can’t sleep.

i know, i know

we go back inside, anyway.

when women become insects

“we didn’t used to be this way”

i look up a history of beauty. a history of cocoons. black and white photo of a 1920’s actress,

stripped down

hip bones jutting like ivory plates,

empty plates,

i live off honey. girls cluster. compliments fall off tongues and roll into a corner. nectar. give and you shall receive.

my mother has a fixation with flowers. it was always the monsters on them that grabbed me. i took blurry photos of spiders when my sister ran

and people used to poke my shoulder blades. they stuck out enough to be wings. it is hard for me to distinguish between feather and bone. angels vs. anorexics, what’s the difference?

when the women in my family cry, our bodies shake so hard they vibrate

we are wasp-waisted bumblebees trapped behind a screen door.

writings!: backyard

when we were young the lawn was a forest we traveled daily,

painting sunflowers with blue nail polish on the back wall of the tenants house, where no one could see.

there were handprints there and they weren’t our own

we worked around them.

Where are you?

backyard.

Where are you?

backyard.

mid may and the loquats fall like blazing suns. my father goes outside and collects bowlfuls. they sit in the kitchen until their yellow turns brown, because how can something be what it can’t see?

seasons go by. seasons goodbye. dad leaves house. loquats die on the lawn. no one to put them in a bowl.

tenant lives in the studio after the lawn. she’s pretty like the girls you hated and wanted to be. she paints your sister’s nails gray. you remember the sunflowers.

tenant moves. new tenant. elias. he serves in the army, you think?. he complements your camera’s zoom lens. you smile. thank him. raspy voice. tenant lives. you go away one weekend. tenant dies. “brain aneurysm.” his family cremates him. he is still here. mostly, he sits impassive in the loquat tree, staring down at you. but sometimes he visits the sunflowers, taking pictures with a zoom lens.

years spin. like the wheel on that tv show you can never remember the name of, even though it’s obvious. new tenant. her motorcycle sits in the driveway and has cobwebs. once in a while you sit on it. she doesn’t mind.

it is cold outside. you do not go there much anymore.

cat sleeps on grave of other cat, by the new tenant’s house. cat is ok. new tenant has dog. dog is ok. old. not as old as elias.

wind chimes. bird head rots in lawn (cat?). body weeps in sunflowers.

writings!: sophia can’t sleep

 

she tells you through a text that the doctor prescribed her valium for her insomnia.

you don’t know what valium looks like; but last night you a dream that it spilled endlessly out of a bottle like cough syrup and blood and

drowned her as she slept-comatose. isn’t that how these things work

anyways? bullets shoot through phone screens. thoughts travel from your head to hers

in the night.

pillows like pills. sheets like paper. tired moon prescribes and prescribes, lab coat gray with craters and dirt and

ash

from future fires

 

writings!: ode to kyra

kyrakyrakyra

brown hair in the sun shines red-gold flute playing witch notes rising higher meets the sun

too smart for her own good

too insecure to feel good

kyrakyrakyra

winged eyeliner doesn’t smudge anymore. sparkling eyes with sparklier eyeshadow

kyrakyrakyra

swing dancing rag doll. words fall out of fingers. too hard on herself. projects anger onto people like a whiteboard

kyrakyrakyra

pillow festers with tears.

tea tree oil on everything hugs to feel like she’s worth something somehow the always the object of creepy older guys befriends the wild for thrills ride or die whirling arms and golden face tries too hard dies too hard too much to live for in too little time

invalidation is her achilles heel, but she will insist it’s everyone’s.