Raw Season

(October, 2017)


I woke up today uncooked and unshelled and shivering,
out of my element, overwhelmed, awed by all—
in a word, raw.
It has taken me hours to regrow my crust, boil away my easy tears.
On a day when the rain is only a couple minutes away
and the streets are ragged with leaves and cans and the ugly gullies beside the pretty moments,
a child’s cheery nonsense would have unravelled me.

I know the exact exposed viscera of my psyche that I can touch,
the way you probe a cavity with your tongue just to test that nervy burn.
I know all the right phrases to think, in my matter-of-fact way:
“They don’t actually like you much.”
“What exactly have you done with your life?”
“Why aren’t you more grateful for what you have?”
“You’re a bother.”
“What will you do when they all leave you?”
I could have cried if I dropped… anything. A paperclip, an earring, anything at all.

The jack-o-lantern smile of the dirty woman on my morning bus almost shattered me.
My thumbnail could cut straight to bone. I was insubstantial,
nothing but fears and tears and naked wonder
at the beauty and the cruelty of the world.

I build up my backbone, brick by brick, as all great structures start.
I strap myself into it and tighten to a second skin,
a shimmering exoskeleton, and even if I cry, in here, the tears are contained.
I will grow sodden in here but at least I will be able to make it home
before I spring a leak.