When you want to fall — fall.
Evaporate and condensate,
but when you rain, come down
as a fucking hurricane.
If the birds stop chirping, if the sunlight forgets
you, if you’ve got your shirttail caught in the fence
of your spine, and you have no way of getting
remember that I am here, that I will bail you out of
your own prison, that I will lay with you the morning after
you fall in love and tell you that it’s okay to love,
that it’s okay to trust another human being
with more than you knew you could.
I will tell you how I held you as a child, listened
to your heartbeat on those sleepless nights, that I
loved your small body and your pebble fists and blessed
the skeleton inside of you —
that you are not beautiful because
a boy tells you so, but beautiful because
And I apologize for giving you such nervous hands and
a sine wave heartbeat. And when you start putting question marks
after everything you say — know that
I may not always have the answers, but
together, we can try to make sense
of it all.
I’ll take you back to my West Virginia. My Gloucester. My
honeysuckles and tool sheds. The chicken coops. The abandoned
loves. I’ll show you what the August grass feels like. I’ll
distract you with tree roots, with atlases, with lessons about the
sea, and until your question marks are bent into
arrows, I will not
stop. So shoot them blindly. Hurt and be hurt. Be the bird
as much as you are the hand.
For I will stand behind you, breaking every vow that I made
to protect you. When I notice your wings are peeking out
from beneath your shirt collar, I’ll
tie my hands back from clipping them. I will hide every rope
in the country so that the love inside of me doesn’t
tether your ankles to home.
You are seventeen, and you are free.
But when you want to come home, I’ll be here.
In the wind chimes, in the small moths that flutter
towards your light, in the way dawn still breaks the same
blue eggs in every place that you decide to
I’ll be here.
Less a ghost than the wind.
Less the wind than a soft hum in the back of your
throat, telling you that it’s okay to sing, that it’s
okay to bray,
that your song is a song that you’ll spend
the rest of your life trying to understand.
That when the birds talk you into flying south, it’s okay
to pick up
There is no shame in being hungry for another person. There is no shame in wanting very much to share your life with somebody.
Leaving is not enough. You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are papier mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.
Novels aren’t just happy escapes; they are slivers of people’s souls, nailed to the pages, dripping ink from veins of wood pulp. Reading the right one at the right time can make all the difference.
Lies I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently
Trees talk to each other at night.
All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.
Tiny bears live in drain pipes.
If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.
The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.
Everyone knows at least one secret language.
When nobody is looking, I can fly.
We are all held together by invisible threads.
Books get lonely too.
Sadness can be eaten.
I will always be there.