I build my story slowly,
increasing tolerance past boiling point.
I describe my fractures bone by bone,
disjointedly, to avoid
shaping the form of my skeleton.
Two hundred and six broken bones
would send bystanders into shock,
they’d curl themselves away into
the nooks of their hearts,
turn their heads and leave
tragedy at the side of the road.
So we focus on healing one break at a time,
though there are too many to fix
and time is running out.
No full body cast -
all we have are twigs and twine.
Unravel my heart like an orange
and witness its rotten sections.
Friendless on purpose,
I’m the ghost of a girl who speaks boldly to strangers,
lecturing on a life of hardship
and how there is hope,
then to go home and sit alone in the dark.
Get to know me and I’ll steal those
orange peels back from your hands,
loosely winding them back around this mess,
taping and sewing and perfecting the craft
of hiding my core.
Rocks are peering up at me through the water
I tried to drown myself in at four years old.
they glimmer when wet and swaddle in seaweed
and I’ve been rescuing them ever since.
Some days from parking lots as a memento,
while other days a single stone cries out at me
to save it from its peers.
I imagine the relief of the metamorphic taking its first breath
and feel the cold vinyl flooring release me from my own
as I place the mother rock on my stomach.
The painted woman there always puzzled me,
too round and blind with that phantom baby in her arms.
Before her it was a relative that crushed me
and after it was a magnet to shatter my foot -
though I never summoned the courage to try and break
my own bones until much older.
Now too old to go back and change the past,
I am riveted in place, unable to move or cry or shield.
Too old to be afraid of the dark
too old to be lead into the forest to die alone.
I still follow dumbly, however, rustling pebbles in my pockets,
trailing them behind me
the stone child died here.