1. SHEAR OFF YOUR HAIR IN THE MIRROR // & leave.
They say it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,
but under your surname Forgive Me & Please
are homonyms. Your father says you don’t know either.
Your father doesn’t know the miniature-dictionary cradled
between your calluses & seamed jean pocket,
how you leaf through fluke, godsend, landmark like
badly bound scripture. This time, you rearrange your plaits
in the shape of a letter. Leave him to spell out
2. WATCH YOUR KITCHEN TILES PLAY SCRABBLE WITH THEMSELVES // & leave.
Sunlight won’t stop spilling across everything
you touch. Think, delirious, about the unleavened loaves
leaning against the cabinets. That afternoon a puncture
at the center of the scene, your father screaming Quiet
On Set. Come On, Get Up, Back At It;
The cupboards blown wide open, the popcorn
walls blitzed, the fridge door swinging crooked
like a fractured shoulder, you front stage in the
earthquake divot of tiles. The phone rings & you don’t pick up.
3. DIG STERNUM SHAPED DENTS INTO THE DOORFRAMES // & leave.
Rib-climber, boy-eater, get in, you want to be kept
safe. Every storage ransacked and every container found wanting.
Drop to / the ground, Don’t
Want To Look Weak, No? Roll / over.
Get / back up.
Coward. Touch / your hand / to that
bareback line / of your nose. Your palms splayed open
like that dead sparrow’s neck you found on
a morning walk, ages ago. Breathless horizon cleaved
down the middle. Pray that
I am not the first to discover you. The phone keeps on ringing.
No, keep grime away from that cotton tank top.
Wife-beater, blood-feeder, all that drywall plaster sinking
to marrow. Come On, Get Up, Back At It. Your shoulder grinding
tectonic plates to the clattering cadence of his fist, how
you choke the strings of your guitar ‘til your fingers twist into
more of beginning-violence-hymn-strums
than of sustenance. Get / The / Fuck /
Back / Up. Your chokehold won’t
stop shaking. There is / no triumph
between / these walls.
4. CRAWL INTO YOUR ROOM TO NURSE YOUR VICTORY // & leave.
You can never finish things right. You never start
the fight. There is nothing to nurture
but your bruises
& the sparrow buried
in your backyard. You’re always
a flight risk, standing next to doorways so
you think it's only right that
you’re found gone in the center
of the room. I deserve some sunlight,
so you crack open a window
and wait for morning. There is nothing left
but the phone
is still ringing.
5. REMEMBER EVERYTHING IS ENDING // yet everything is beginning.
The front door is open. The birds
are cheeping. The other day, your father stopped in the middle of the freeway
to let a chittering squirrel cross. You told me about it & you
couldn’t stop talking in circles about his hands. His
half-moon thumbprint melding into the steering wheel, the
same way it used to around his worn leather belt. How violence
can leach out of a man. How it could
latch onto another. I don’t know
if blisters can soften, but I tell you so &
try to imagine this possibility into existence. My front door
is closed, but all you need to do is knock. My hairbrush
crooked on my desk. My kitchen dripping with sunlight
& yeast. Our morning walks. Our made-up songs.
They’re all waiting for you. Walk out of your home &
6. CALL ME, CALL ME, CALL ME, CALL ME // & stay.
Love, this is me asking for you to call me. I’m bad at these things but this is me telling you that I love you. I’m waiting. I’m waiting. Please call me back.
Editors: Blenda Y., Phoebe H., Uzayer M.