There was a time when I slept with the light on.
An efficient white light pooling its way around
the room, emanating
from a fake brown antique lamp
without a shade
makeup stained on the carpeted floor.
Splotches of foundation and streaks of mascara.
My mother tucking in her grown up daughter like
the child she was once was.
Before. Still innocent.
My mother telling me one day it would get better.
She was all I had in the world.
She’d turn on the cassette player, Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle,
Because it was an easy read and a welcome distraction.
I’d lie there rigid until the meds kicked in.
I can’t close my eyes.
For seven years, I can’t close my eyes.
I can’t see his silhouette in the doorway.
Leaning against the frame.
The pleasure. Was it really pleasure?
In his face.
I can’t see them taking turns.
I hover around in space removed from my body.
Because this can’t be happening.
I can’t see them taking turns.
The taller one, thinner, forcing me to kneel by shoving at my neck.
I still flinch every time someone touches my neck.
I remember thinking they won’t even kiss me.
I remember the way this simple quiet truth ruined me most of all.
There was a time when the only place I found solace was the floor.
The breezy cement of the employee bathroom at Forever 21.
The easy way I wretched forward and wept,
curling in and out of a ball on my side.
My cheek pressed against the dolphin gray cement,
wading in a pool of tears.
The knock at the door.
The way it didn’t matter
the public nature of
but the solace of the floor.
I spent two hours down there.
The toilet near my feet.
The sink above my head.
Contoured in between them in some outline of agony.
They made me get up and
get back to work.
I wandered around aimlessly scaring customers
with the easy way the tears leaked off
and disappeared into the blackness of my shirt.
I never went back. I still haven’t.
The curbside in East Oakland outside your house.
I don’t remember how it all began.
How mortified you must have been.
This girl you wanted to be rid of. sobbing.
Sprawled on the edge of
the curb in the darkness of 2am.
The corner of the curb was missing a chunk, a gaping hole in the foundation,
I need to find a way to fill this in, I said.
You looked at me and shook your head. There is no way to do that.
No way to fill it in.
There was still a small part of you that cared because
you didn’t leave me there alone.
I needed closure. And all I found was an open wound.
There was a time when being incarcerated
made perfect sense. When I was not safe from myself.
I would lie on the floor of the common room
with a large dictionary pressing down on my chest.
They told me this would counteract
the urge to vomit after eating.
They kept my bathroom locked.
I had to ask permission.
They would stand outside the door ajar
and listen for the sound of urine.
The stale forest green hospital scrubs
that felt more familiar
than my own clothing. Protective.
A comfort to my madness.
An easy pat on the shoulder
of grown up responsibility.
A uniformity. A belonging.
All of us crazies in our hospital scrubs.