on our better days,
neither of us wants to smother the other.
purple is a lovely colour on you, with your skin like sunset
but I bruise too easily.
you sit me down on tacky leather
my thighs are melting to it, my nails carve little lines.
tell me tell me
your mom is on concrete yelling.
she’s got boxes at her feet and she’s throwing it at the window.
we aren’t listening — we aren’t her landlord, it’s not our job.
I don’t have anything happening to me that hasn’t already muddled its way through you.
the attic door is locked and you promised you know how to get out but I’m sweating,
I’m worried, I’m claustrophobic about it and
did I mention I’m allergic to dust?
this whole place is a powder keg.
you said I’m too skittish to be your age —
you say I think my legs are longer than they are.
don’t be afraid,
your fingers are growing into roots and soon you won’t be able to let go of what you grab.
so people are bitter,
what do we owe them?
there’s no food up here,
what if we starve?
I have a family history of it — my great-grandmother chewed off her own tongue.
grandpa stopped eating in solidarity but he gave up after a week
if you go back further you’ll get a whole legacy of the starved:
my people in desert plains and the cold part of nova scotia
empty sands and barren hills and you will not find your salvation in the minutes before your
throat shrivels up.
you say hunger’s not an inherited trait
but what would you know about heritage?
you are muddled north america and the land you see from your attic window is land you feel
land you can climb out onto, land you can slide down the drainpipe to meet, land you can
thump your feet on to test its strength, land you can yell come on!
your mom’s in the driveway and she’s getting closer
you say there’s nothing to be afraid of but she sounds angry
my people always fall when they jump,
you say I can’t inherit a broken ankle.
tell me tell me
sing me the story if you won’t speak it! shout it if you won’t whisper it!
I will feel the rhythm in my feet and we will run, run deep past the outlet mall and the
chainlink park and I will scrape my knees and knuckles bloody for you!
and we can raise your little brother and my little brother and we’ll tell them they’re twins and
they’ll inherit my skinned knees and bruised bones because that’s what families do! I will
prove to you that my yesterday is starving me and you can swallow your tongue in sympathy!
birds will come and I will pull them out of the sky!
they are shiny and black and I’m wearing them like rings like armour I am safe in their
they never look away they just look up
tell me tell me!
I have a historical roster memorized and I know the faces of men with scars on their thighs
I don’t know what it means yet, but I’m going to find out, and any scar shaped like a star
seems godly in the night
I will keep us both here,
I am standing on the edge of your roof;
you don’t have a heritage and so your past is your present.
god is layering a thousand years of tragedy onto one lifetime, all at once,
The stucco is crumbling underneath me and your loyalty has you ready to catch me —
we can hear your mom and she’s spitting mad, there’s no getting out of this one, I’m scared
of her but I’m more scared of you
I swear to god I’ll take us both down I don’t care about the consequences
tell me tell me!
the wind is blowing too hard for me to hear you
but I’m falling falling like you asked:
it’s a chipped-tooth blood-mouth fall
the kind that makes it hard to eat.
let’s go! the pollen’s shoving at me and if we run long enough we can make you a history like
my people have.