Pop. Pop. Dry swallow. And I’ve heard there’s more than this. But I was breaking before I knew what it was. I was born on the wrong side of an empty milk carton. I was born as a silent Amber Alert. Eyes too vacant to exist. Missing person: don’t call, if found. Dial-tone: disconnect. Because, hey, it’s not like the phone bill got paid, anyway. I learned how to walk in 400 square feet of rent was late. My first words were a lie. I knew that the bathtub is where you hide during a storm. And not just tornadoes and earthquakes. Porcelain-coffins are security blankets during screaming matches too. And blood is red. I don’t care who told you it was blue. White walls look better in red. I don’t fucking care who said blue. The only blue I know are the lights that spin on car-tops when there’s too much broken glass and you can’t pry guns from shaking fingers. My hands knew how to construct stars before I could write my name. They come from explosion. Not combustion. They come from fists through walls and how you can hide from them if you press palm to eye socket the way you dig your heels into the earth when it’s time to go home. Palms to eyes. And that’s how stars learn to dance. That’s a waltz I learned by heart, long before I ever knew music. And sometimes that party can show up unexpected. Like when the pressure around your throat leaves less than enough space for oxygen molecules. Those stars often burst across cheekbones. Pour out eyes to rest as capillary-constellation against high arches and around suitcase-laden lashes. Which while we’re on the subject, is one of many excellent spots to carry baggage. Why sleep when the windows to my soul love to rest on a velvet backdrop of shadow-drenched pillows? Another place with a deep luggage wrack is the neck. And my spine is a storage unit of depression-shaped, cardboard boxes. Most are water-logged, as often times the pipes back up, and salt-water has very few places to hide in a body that is mostly skin and bone. But never mind all of that. I know a head-spin, downward spiral just as well as the next plane crash. And with no parachute, you can only go south from here. Islands are for the lonely, and I’ve slept on beaches with the hope of saving the sand to freeze my hourglass. But that mostly ends in breaking. Because mostly I end in breaking. I’ve slept in dustbin-arms after brooms I never asked for swept me into hasty, dirt piles. And sometimes those lines that rest at the edges but never quite make it in, have ground themselves across the floor with such force that the remains are like razor-cut snow. And when I press my fragmented pieces against the mirror, I know what it feels like to pass through nasal-passage as powdered mood enhancer. I know how to feed an addiction better than I’ve ever fed myself. I am the amount of calories I burn in direct correlation to the amount that pass down my throat. Nothing fucking else. So when you tell me that you need me, I imagine you must be starving. But there is not much of me here to feast upon. I was grown from dirt floors. My roots are deep. But I was birthed from seed of broken-home. My petals were lack-of-water, decaying before my blossoms fully bloomed. My vines have only ever pumped poison. And they have splayed themselves as ground-coverage because I beg to be walked upon. Sun, no longer touches my edges because the tree coverage grew in dense with the way I have been filled with the things I never wanted. And weeds don’t leave. They spread. They tangle. But they are weeds, nonetheless. And I will only die by fire. Scorched-earth. Smoke-filled. And it all lays heavy. My body is transmission-failure immobile. Anchor-down, stationary. Respite is a peppermint spotted sun, bite-size and quick to slip down my throat. There is not burning as it scrapes the walls, but it is after-taste bitter at the back of my mouth. And it is everything I will never eat and all of the guilt that I have already swallowed. And tell me again about how there’s more than this. Remind me. There’s more than this.
Emily Perkovich is from the Chicago land area. When she is not traveling for work she spends her time in the city with her family. She is previously published with Wide Eyes Publishing, Witches N' Pink, and Awakenings.