Inspired by “Wishbone” by Richard Siken
You are talking about your ex-boyfriend
and I am telling you about how when I tried to kill myself,
I couldn’t find a sharp enough knife.
I even tried a cleaver from the kitchen drawer,
but I couldn’t bring myself to push hard enough,
If could have, I would have cut myself into marble
slabs and built a castle. I would have been happy there,
This is where everything splits in half, love or death,
and death is starting to seem less like a destination,
more like someplace you wake up after a night so drunk
with stars you lose count of your wishes. This afternoon
is bone white. You talk about your breakup, how you’re
swearing off boys again because girls have always
been hotter anyways; you list the names of all the ones
you would fuck and I’m here listing off all the medications
that have run their course through my body like ex-lovers.
Citalopram. Fluoxetine. Olanzapine. Bupropion.
Risperidone. Venlafaxine. Mirtazapine.
Aripiprazole. I could write an alphabet song
out of all these anti-everything’s I’ve tried and forgone.
That’s funny, isn’t it? It’s a joke, you’re supposed
to be laughing, but instead you’re giving me that Look like
when I try to tell you about the music that plays
in my therapist’s waiting room. Be quiet now, it says,
you’re breaking the rules, as if we’re playing hide-and-seek
and this life is a child—like if we can’t see it, it can’t see us.
As if it won’t always find us again, peel back the bedcovers,
here you are, it’s your turn now. Grab an end, pull hard.
When we last dried out a wishbone, I ended up with
the smaller piece. I asked what you had wished for and
all you said was that you wanted me to be okay again.
These days you speak a foreign tongue and I keep passing
you dictionaries hoping you’ll get the hint. I cry
so much at night that my bed floats away and strands
me on an island of sadness so big it swallows up my world.
The nights I run out of tears, this riverbank has graves
in it, I’m sleeping with the dead. You’re talking about
falling in love again and I am dressing up corpses, pretending
that I’m not rotting. Can you smell it? Flowers, you tell me,
it’s the flowers. You’ve turned my wrists into roses and
I am still cleaning up the blood. You keep telling me about
the normal things, but I can’t remember what that world
was like; all I can do is take these pieces of mine, these
dull shards of reality, and toss them up in the air. Love
or death, we can’t have both. Catch, grab an end, pull hard.
Make a wish.
Martina Dansereau is a (gender)queer writer and performance poet from the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada, who spends the majority of xyr time blogging, snuggling snakes, and crying over spoken word. For xem, writing is a vital part of healing from trauma and mental illness as well as a platform to share xyr voice as a marginalized identity. Xe is a poetry reader for Persephone’s Daughters, a lit mag dedicated to empowering women, and xyr work has been published in the Phoenix Rising Review and is forthcoming in Doll Hospital Journal. Xe is really passionate about anti-oppression and activism, queering platonic relationships, radicalizing self-care, and midnight walks in the rain.
Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters. Glenn is also the official photographer for the Newton Writing and Publishing Center.