some settling may occur

some wandering may perpetuate
may infatuate
may drill the thousand tiny sounds of your feet into your heartbeat –
keep walking, they will say
keep wishing yourself home /
there’s no place like home, they’ll say
like the hollow warmth of a shell still kindling

keep labeling yourself the same things
we want to know you as –
messy girl, mess of a girl –
“i feel comfortable when I can place you under the heading
mess of a girl”, they’ll say /
your gaze will confirm – your handshake will squirm
you’ll still feel comfortable in your own chair if you can keep classifying –
glassy-eyed and classy –

you’ll keep nodding, saying clearly and sharply and soundly that
that the image of me you like most dearly is the one you
paint from the shadows of my hobnob splinter-story (told on its side, told unrefined
and one-sidedly)
my story doesn’t get to speak up for itself (you speak for it) (you talk to the sound of my story, the way it clinks its champagne glass, the way it shrinks from subtlety, the way it echoes back to you some other path you were too scared to walk)
you imagine the edges, the places too far for me to run
you give it back to me scribbled ballpoint pen on a napkin
you say wipe your mouth, messy girl
you say stain your lips with ink, messy girl
then I’ll have one more reason to remind you

of the way your paint drips plaster onto your skin
your mascara tattoos itself in the ridges under your eyes – raccoon baby,
you are a mess of a girl –
i am here to tell you this,
because your stutter arms cannot hold your face close enough to a mirror
because your pores are too wide to hide from, because you cannot see yourself
through your own imaginings, they’ll say

messy girl, they’ll say
clean the chalk up from under your heart – all the scrap paper collage and glitterglue
maps you drew to find the
hue that you are now – something past indigo –

a shade you do not recognize
or you cower from, or you pretend to not see
how the river has turned carminered; how the buckles on my hands are veridian, how aquagreen has filtered out of my eyes now
you stand, apparently
to see the rustgold, the silverhaze, the polished wrinkles under my eyes, the hurricane icecream skies i have swallowed, the vertebrae i have curled and unfurled, the strength i have sat upon sinew

the hues i grew into – the subtlety of color – the way the colors stand against one another
you’ll see greyscale
(you’ll tell me even)

i’ll see a fire; tumult of shade and oxygen /
i’ll get to see, and i’ll get to burn.

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