As a child, you imagined that clouds were solid and that tomorrows would always come. On Sunday mornings, you’d watch planes drag lazily across the sky. You couldn’t understand how pilots could be so skilled. How do they dodge the clouds, mommy? Shut up and stop asking questions. You’d nod but you’d still wonder about those amazing pilots. Skulls and crossbones mean pirates and poison, but it seemed that mommy forgot which bottles were which because her pirate juice, the one that made her words sound funny and her snores loud like thunder, it was full but the poison left a dried ring of froth around her mouth. Tomorrow didn’t come for mommy, but she must be living on a cloud now. On the top, you know, so you can’t see her, but she’s still there.
A lawyer now, you lost the magic of solid clouds and pirate juice. You know our mother left you. She couldn’t help it, they say. She was ill, they say. You know, they say, pointing to their heads and turning their fingers around imaginary locks of hair. You nod, pennies filling the back of your throat and dwindling from your bank account.
Sunday mornings are quiet as death now. You imagine death is actually quiet. No more screaming babies on the subway, no more overheard arguments through thinning, half-eaten drywall. Just quiet. And dark. Like those sensory deprivation tanks, only you can’t be deprived of senses if you don’t have them. Just like your mother believed she couldn’t have her life stolen out from under her, ruined by a child she never wanted, if she didn’t have a life.
The sky is deceptively blue today
And bugs whine in the Indian summer heat
(Is it still an Indian summer if it happens every year?)
I woke up late
Which is to say I woke up at the same time I always do
Which is to say I have no reason to get up in the morning
Which is to say I do but I can’t see it with this heavy
Blanketing my fogged thoughts
So I sleep instead and try to remember dreams
That I wish I could write into reality
Which is to say I could –
I’m a writer you know –
But I have this nothingness surrounding my peony heart
It’s a numbness I guess, but also
But simply nothing at the same time
I wonder if I really am a writer
Or if that, too, was a “phase” just like they said my sexuality would be
But now in this time that should be autumn
I feel like it’s the end of something
Because endings are just so much simpler
Or maybe it’s just October 13
And nothing is so significant after all
My depression settles like a blanket over my head,
warm and suffocating and familiar. Some days,
it slinks around behind my brain, hiding
from the sun of the good days. Other days,
it sits in my skull like a stone, daring me
to smile, lest it remind me no one cares,
Today, it hangs over my head, a darkened room
only lit by the splinter of light carving a path
from the hallway.
Today, I am too hot and too cold all at once.
Today, I am too much and nothing at all.
There is nothing kind about pretending to love someone
long after you’ve forgotten what their voice sounds like
on sleepy, coffee-scented Sunday mornings.
There is nothing authentic about excuses dripping in guilt.
You know this.
Yet somehow, you’ve decided the rosebush blooming next to your door,
the one that caresses your doorstep with blood-red petals
even when it hurts to let them fall,
“The thorns hurt,” you say, but you haven’t seen the thorns in years.
What really hurts is knowing that you planted the rosebush there –
lifetimes ago, it seems –
but now you can’t bear to look at it
because it reminds you of the time you almost died.
The world is an ocean but no one told me
just how tired these arms could get
when the night sky drew overhead
like a down blanket embroidered with stars.
Trees bend in the wind in the same way
I lean against the deafening silence
in a train station inhabited only by me
and the way my breath stills the air.
Blades of defeated grass stand resolute
as tombstones for worms and me,
biding our time until the sun
pulls back the blanket again.