YOU THOUGHT YOUR HANDS COULD NOT SAVE YOU
You always thought your hands
were bridges falling apart during an earthquake, that every time you reach for someone’s sternum
they fall off and you end up kissing your nail-polished toes, wishing it would stay unshakable, water proof.
I’m sorry, your capacity underwater is a minute and a half but you said your lungs can spend every second, counting
with your mouth of how much you love him. Even if your clothes is drenched from all the lies and saltiness of his tongue.
Even if a candle is begging you to look a little farther away, and see that you are worth the sun.
That the conglomeration of things that floats under bridges envy you for being close to the heavens,
because you can hold the burning in your hands. You, my darling, you are every droplet of water from your tattered dress,
if you just learn how to walk away from the shoreline. Just try. Leave him back to the island were your hands
knew more fingers than your own,
and remind your arms how to hold your body for awhile. If the water from your sink had the sands washed away, the very air knocked out of your lungs will come back. Wipe the fog deep into your skin.
Reach out with your fingers.
You are not the earthquake in apologies and drenched mascaras,
you might be broken because you floated away. But so did the ocean.
FOR WOMEN WHO SPENT HOURS BENDING
You were taught to close your legs.
To carry a broom bigger than your hands
and maybe even sweep the floor on your knees,
you can almost taste the cobwebs hanging in your throat.
A week ago, you witnessed how your grandmother’s back folded from paying all the water and electric bills
and your uncle’s midnight beer sessions. You wonder why you can’t talk about sex
at the dinner table and your brother can count
how many girls he slept with. You keep your mouth stitched with the needle and thread you bought out of habit.
The moment you started closing your hands around detergent bars, to wash away the blood from between your thighs
your father said you should also learn how to fold a man’s shirt so neatly it can look like a band-aid out of the box
you can’t even heal yourself with it. I wonder how many more back-breaking, countless hours,
free-of-charge what-can-I-do-for-you’s will you say yes to. Until you admit that men are old enough to do it by themselves unless you want to. You are a woman, a wife, and a mother, and once you build a home, build it without
treating your body like a helper.
THIS IS YOUR DANCE, STILL
Nobody wanted your thighs, the way your toes eat sand and choke as if
it didn’t learn how to avoid cement cracks, and anything in half,
in thirds, anything broken.
Your ankle looks like a cliff,
your ankle won’t want you to jump over something you would blame it for. Trust your lungs if it takes you
out to sea, if it wants you to inhale salt,
if it wants war
with the waves, if it wants to toss your hair the way painters do with black paint. Some days,
the ocean looks like
an ashtray pretending to be blue, full of wreckage and spit. So you call yourself a failed landing, but your hands were only taking you to places
far from perfect but always, as real
as your heart beating two point five billion times when this
is all over. When this
is all over but it is not quite
yet. Hear that song. Why won’t you dance with your awkwardness sprayed painted all over kitchen floor? Why won’t you stumble over, fall flat, and still,
and still, call your knees graceful?
Kalay Brillo is a contributing author to anthologies entitled Coming of Age under Summit Books and My Lot Is a Sky under Math Paper Press. Her poems and short stories cover topics of mental health, self-healing, feminism, and abuse, among others.