in a Western Massachusetts barn, we are on the see-saw. try so hard to keep still, keep still. we just want that good flat line, that peaceful bit. we are screaming. the music is loud, i don’t remember. i remember her face, streaked with sweat, like mine, like mine. under the white gauze, under the hot sun, i am fainting. the realization crowns; we have set ourselves an impossible task. we are being difficult to be difficult, but we don’t know how to stop. we are yelling into the wood, we are yelling into our bodies to be mastered–please, please, let the physics of this world simply yield to my demands. my temples burn. i have shorn off all my hair. my skin is burned. my shoes are torn. we have done this to ourselves for our own good. i want to return, i want to flee. the ache in my feet from those barefoot woods was better than this echoing chest. two half-filled balloons try desperately to balance. the beam does not know mercy, an object can only be honest and so i fill my room with things. i climb inside my seat, i climb inside my life again to learn i am betrayed–no matter, no matter. i spend six years on a bus across town; i see you and i nod. we are trying so hard to be still, because someone we thought—

the struggle to stay cogent remains throughout all seasons. spring slowly bleeds to birth itself, and my stupid head is caught in winter. the night life of my small mistakes crowds around my bed, a hoard. the horses pound the earth. i bend. i keep my woman’s back curved in supplication to my doubt, i keep my child’s teeth yellow like the day. in a half-dream my mother turns to me, sobbing, and I have nothing to say. 

you can stop, he says. just stop, he says. you can walk away. walk away, walk away. my legs have fallen off with every lash i pulled. i wander the cosmetics isle, hoping to– nothing to be said, I said. nothing to be said. once I start I won’t be able to stop, I said. once the dam breaks the river knows that it can win. and who are we to try.