to myself at seventeen

i remember you as black nail polish
and electrical tape across torn lips,
as fanatical loves, fantastic hatred
and ceaseless shifts between both

as an infant cradled between speakers
on brown carpet at four a.m., fledgling
fictioneer with cramped fingers
curled around composition notebooks–

musicians were religions, mother was a broken bastion
and the rest of the world could care less.

now i want to kneel in front of you
to touch your cheek with my fingers
because i know you like that
and cupping your face gives you panic attacks
if it isn’t done correctly. i want to look in your eyes
(though it frightens you too) and tell you

it will be worse. you will die,
and these dreams that succor you
will soon grow red with rust and ridicule,
you will love too many boys the wrong ways
and your mother will move away in a year.

you will never quite be sure if she left the city
or you,

but the day you stand up after scratching your wrists
in a cold dormitory after loneliness lacerates your lungs
you will find that at long last, the mirror speaks truth
and it will change everything.

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