i’m an actor onstage and off

i. my darling aunt, all rosy cheeks and bright eyes / my sweet aunt, her kind offerings of gifts and love / my favourite aunt, the redness of her cupid bow lips play deceive on me / for a moment after, i believed i tasted sugar on the tip of my tongue / it must have burnt somewhere, somehow, along the way to my taste buds / the darkness is heavy between the gaps of my teeth / my fingers twitch; i want to break the promise / such desires are deep and dangerous, too much so for a 16 year old girl / you’re young, you don’t know what you’re talking about / you’re young, you know nothing compared to her / when she smiles, doesn’t it feel like you’re making someone proud? / for the first time in your life you’re doing it right / (pinky promise, lock fingers with me, tell me you’ll never fall for a girl)

ii. lies roll of my tongue with practiced ease / the shrug and the slight raise of eyebrows, like i’m better / so much better, i am / i’m not / but i fear the unknown and god knows / god knows i’m terrified of rejection, a coward within and on the outside / my skin crawls at the very mention of the word / are you ashamed? / i ask myself this in the corner of the toilet stall, stare at my reflection in the dirtied mirror / my knuckles turn white from gripping the edges of the sink / the cement presses onto the palms of my hands as i struggle to breathe / wonder how many others before me, how many others after me, how many others like me/ how many have been in this exact placement / were they ashamed too? / are you ashamed? / (are you gay?)

iii. the almost silent trill of laughter that follows her words sound sadder than hilarious / i swallow imperceptibly / i’m afraid of divulging the truth / that i have yet to confess to myself / even in the deepest part of my mind, i need to dig / kneel on the ground and push away soil with my hands / watch dirt get stuck underneath my fingernails / before i can admit that no, no, no, you’re wrong / my heart twists and threatens to fall and words implant themselves on the linings of my throat / i want to say fuck it, no / i want to say: you’re the goddamn prettiest person i’ve ever seen / don’t look away but don’t look at me with those eyes / i’m not ready to enter your soul / let me play pretend for a while more / let me play pretend, i want to be a kid / (nah, you’re too pretty to be gay)

iv. someone, please / teach me how to bite back these tall tales that live on the edge of my tongue / that threaten civilians every time a whisper of breath passes by / how to stretch out the hand that i keep inside my pocket / how to take it out and hold hers / teach me to run from the looming storm / to steal the bolts of lightning and make them mine / to light up the dark soul that resides within me / to kill the voice who tells me to keep it all in / because i’m fucking tired / i don’t want to apologize for being anymore / teach me, please / someone, please

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