|Photo by Mandoline Whittlesey|
Today I woke haunted by those who are no longer.
People who passed through my past
ghosts before they were gone:
a Jessica, a few women named Amy, one Virginia, and many more.
As if they are states I once visited
but no longer possess a visa for.
They litter my contacts in voicemail and email:
I type in someone new,
and there they are, their former selves
smiling at me.
They are not smiling at me.
I am not smiling at me.
Last night I dreamt of a host of them,
a gaggle of them approaching me in anger. I felt shame like a virus,
gangrene infecting my leg, bacteria spreading
organically, as if this is always
how it ends.
I know forgiveness.
I know how to give it for another.
Where can I cauterize my self-inflicted wounds,
these dangling ends that stir in me
amoebas of what could have been
of what I thought
was a beautiful and safe cactus?
My own mind became dangerous, found land mines
in these interactions. I cannot seem to let the hair triggers go
drop the reflex to defend
let myself really never understand
let myself know that I will never really know.