There are forty three little men less than a centimeter tall, suspended on ropes and pulleys, with yellow hard hats and flashlights and pick axes, hard at work on her smile, creasing worry into her too-young-face. She isn’t even disappointed, or surprised. Is she really that far removed, has she learned to freeze solid? They chisel age lines that don’t belong, chip the corner of her mouth so it permanently points at the floor, even when she smiles. Is this a strength or a weakness? She would’ve killed for this option a few years ago, the option not to feel, but right now she wants seizure love, razor love, fourteen-hour impulse drive love. The men are Rushmore-ing her face into monument, painting her extinct. She wants to know what it smells like as the world ends. That the sleight of circumstance should plant a swift blow to her mouth; she wants something to smart, or sting, or burn shallow in her lungs. The men hang their tools from their belts and open up miniature lunch pails, dangle from her ears, sit at the ball of her nose. She wants to dream about the freckled constellations between your shoulder blades and remember parts of herself she recorded on post-its and stuck to the door. But you refused to look up and now the little men are multiplying. She knows how you’re going to mock her, the pieces you’ve honed in on to bricolage into your own little disaster. She’s gonna color herself naked, fall for a girl with pink shoes who draws pictures of bird’s nests, and she’s gonna remember you the way she remembers them all-- by the orgasms.
She longs for her crazy the way cancer patients long for a lost organ. She knows something is wrong with her. Maybe it is self-inflicted or invented. Damage is damage; imagined or not, it becomes real. She thinks sometimes that she has imagined her entire self into being, that somewhere in the folds of a white walled psych ward, her body is strapped to a hospital bed. Everything she sees is a delusion, everything she knows is fabricated. She can spin yarns into gold and trick the hens into laughing with her. She uses the term sober loosely, the way certain clothes are designed to slide off your shoulders. Her definitions are pliable. They don’t hug any part of her body too tight. Words have two dimensions. People have at least four. She has nine. Nine’s her favorite number. She is the byproduct of a tornado fornicating with a tightrope walker. She always assured them there was a method to the chaos. Sometimes there wasn't. Sometimes she is so full of shit. Even when she’s bullshitting you, she is brutally honest. She learned survival from the way the grains moved through the last two by four on her park bench. She wondered if this one was its spine, if this bench was her home, if you can tuck yourself into an idea. She has origamied herself into benches, and boys, and words that only add up to the square root of nothing. Her eyes are creased into permanent distrust, her clothes are an ensemble of worry, her mouth smiles out of habit. She runs her tongue along the inside of her gums, along the ridges in her cheeks. She chews on her mouth while she sleeps, gnashes her teeth together, grinds her knife against the grains of the park bench. She carves:
A paper fog crawls in
through the space below my door
sits, heavy and calculating
climbs over my toes, drags
the long drives to nowhere
through the kaleidoscoped
tilt of a cigarette filter,
there is a war in progress.
Sometimes when you touch her, she immediately leaves her body, jumps ship from the diseased mound of flesh that holds her captive. It’s a reflex. She feels guilty. She feels like she needs to come clean, but it’s not a clean that can be showered off or told on. She already told him it’s okay. It’s okay, I’m not mad. The little men tried to chisel sincerity into her cheekbones, but a hammer fell on one of their heads. He didn’t have a hard hat on, so everyone took the rest of the day off to mourn. When a girl turns away, presses her face into the pillow, when her body becomes grinding teeth, it’s okay. It means she’s enjoying herself. It means she wants your hand to creep between her clenched thighs. She has been constructed by men. The blue prints, the foundation. She is hardwired to sing on pitch. She is the something wrong. Her body invites wandering hands, it has to. She paints a sign that says Vacant and hangs it under her brow. She just wanted your hand-me-down flannel shirt against her cheek, but you wouldn’t touch her. So she stayed up all night, and he started touching her, and he listens to lil Wayne and doesn’t know the words to Helpless. He couldn’t find where she cries from with a hazel twig, and her body deserved it. Her body is frozen, her body is sinking, her body is made of barbed wire and iron bars. Her body is a cement block, her body is forty two men with pick axes and one with a gravestone. She can’t sleep without you. She pretended to sleep on his hand. It didn’t work. Now she’ll never sleep again. She told him it’s okay in nine different languages, though she’s only fluent in one. She doesn’t know how to tell you, the cracks only get deeper with time.
© Molly Kat 2012