The Sun and Her Flowers (5 page)

home

it began as a typical thursday from what i recall

sunlight kissed my eyelids good morning

i remember it exactly

climbing out of bed

making coffee to the sound of children playing outside

putting music on

loading the dishwasher

i remember placing flowers in a vase

in the middle of the kitchen table

only when my apartment was spotless

did i step into the bathtub

wash yesterday out of my hair

i decorated myself

like the walls of my home were decorated

with frames bookshelves photos

i hung a necklace around my neck

hooked earrings in

applied lipstick like paint

swept my hair back—just your typical thursday

we ended up at a get-together with friends

at the end you asked if i needed a ride home and

i said
yes
cause our dads worked at the same company

and you'd been to my place for dinner many times

but i should have known

when you began to confuse
kind conversation with flirtation

when you told me to let my hair down

when instead of driving me home
toward the bright intersection

of lights and life—you took a left

to the road that led nowhere

i asked where we were going

you asked if i was afraid

my voice threw itself over the edge of my throat

landed at the bottom of my belly and hid for months

all the different parts in me
turned the lights off

shut the blinds

locked the doors

while i hid at the back of some
upstairs closet of my mind as

someone broke the windows—you

kicked the front door in—you

took everything

and then someone took me

—it was you.

who dove into me with a fork and a knife

eyes glinting with starvation
like you hadn't eaten in weeks

i was a hundred and ten pounds of fresh meat

you skinned and gutted with your fingers

like you were scraping the inside of a cantaloupe clean

as i screamed for my mother

you nailed my wrists to the ground

turned my breasts into bruised fruit

this home is empty now

no gas

no electricity

no running water

the food is rotten

from head to foot i am layered in dust

fruit flies. webs. bugs.

someone call the plumber

my stomach is backed up—i've been vomiting since

call the electrician

my eyes won't light up

call the cleaners to wash me up and hang me to dry

when you broke into my home
it never felt like mine again

i can't even let a lover in without getting sick

i lose sleep after the first date

lose my appetite

become more bone and less skin

forget to breathe

every night my bedroom becomes a psych ward

where panic attacks turn men
into doctors to keep me calm

every lover who touches me—feels like you

their fingers—you

mouths—you

until they're not the ones
on top of me anymore—it's you

and i am so tired

of doing things your way

—it isn't working

i've spent years trying to figure out
how i could have stopped it

but the sun can't stop the storm from coming

the tree can't stop the ax

i can't blame myself for a having a hole
the size of your manhood in my chest anymore

it's too heavy to carry your guilt—i'm setting it down

i'm tired of decorating this place with your shame
as if it belongs to me

it's too much to walk around with
what your hands have done

if it's not my hands that have done it

the truth comes to me suddenly—after years of rain

the truth comes like sunlight
pouring through an open window

it takes a long time to get here

but it all comes full circle

it takes a broken person to come searching
for meaning between my legs

it takes a complete. whole. perfectly designed
person to survive it

it takes monsters to steal souls

and fighters to reclaim them

this home is what i came into this world with

was the first home

will be the last home

you can't take it

there is no space for you

no welcome mat

no extra bedrooms

i'm opening all the windows

airing it out

putting flowers in a vase
in the middle of the kitchen table

lighting a candle

loading the dishwasher with all of my thoughts

until they're spotless

scrubbing the countertops

and then
i plan to step into the bathtub

wash yesterday out of my hair

decorate my body in gold

put music on

sit back

put my feet up

and enjoy
this typical thursday afternoon

when snow falls

i long for grass

when grass grows

i walk all over it

when leaves change color

i beg for flowers

when flowers bloom

i pick them

-
unappreciative

tell them i was the

warmest place you knew

and you turned me cold

at home that night

i filled the bathtub with scorching water

tossed in spearmint from the garden

two tablespoons almond oil

some milk

and honey

a pinch of salt

rose petals from the neighbor's lawn

i soaked myself in the mixture

desperate to wash the dirty off

the first hour

i picked pine needles from my hair

counted them one two three

lined them up on their backs

the second hour

i wept

a howling escaped me

who knew girl could become beast

during the third hour

i found bits of him on bits of me

the sweat was not mine

the white between my legs

not mine

the bite marks

not mine

the smell

not mine

the blood

mine

the fourth hour i prayed

it felt like you threw me

so far from myself

i've been trying to find my way back ever since

i reduced my body to aesthetics

forgot the work it did to keep me alive

with every beat and breath

declared it a grand failure for not looking like theirs

searched everywhere for a miracle

foolish enough to not realize

i was already living in one

the irony of loneliness

is we all feel it

at the same time

-
together

my girlhood was too much hair

thin limbs coated in velvet

it was neighborhood tradition

for the other young girls and i

to frequent basement salons on a weekly basis

run by women in a house

who were my mother's age

had my mother's skin

but looked nothing like my simple mother

they had brown skin with

yellow hair meant for white skin

streaks like zebras

slits for eyebrows

i looked at my own caterpillars with shame

and dreamt mine would be that thin

i sit timidly in the makeshift waiting area
hoping a friend from school would not drop by

a bollywood music video is playing on a tiny

television screen in the corner

someone is getting their legs waxed or hair dyed

when the auntie calls me in
i walk into the room

and make small talk

she leaves for a moment
while i undress my lower half

i slide my pants and underwear off

lie down on the spa bed and wait

when she returns she positions my legs

like an open butterfly

soles of feet together

knees pointing in opposite directions

first the disinfectant wipe

then the cold jelly

how is school
and
what are you studying
she asks

turns the laser on

places the head of the machine on my pubic bone

and just like that it begins

the hair follicles around

my clitoris begin burning

with each zap

i wince

shivering with pain

why do i do this
why do i punish my body

for being exactly as it's meant to be

i stop myself halfway through the regret

when i think of him and how

i'm too embarrassed to show him

unless it's clean

i bite down on my lip

and ask if we're almost finished

-
basement aesthetician

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