These ribbons mean danger.

I am living primarily off of chocolate coconut Luna bars and smoking in the car again– such are my peculiar signs of impending break. I wake soaked in sweat– I wake hearing the anger and disgust in his voice, again, the specific words he said, although now weeks have passed– my heart cringes and crawls like an experimental lab rat, fearing the shock it knows will come and is helpless to prevent. Nightmares bring family and home, Christmas and slaughter, my grandmother’s corpse and bears in the bedroom. Nothing feels heavier, more pathetic and insoluble than the weight and dampness, the stink and wind of the sheets tangled around my neck and thighs. I wake bewildered and terrified, tail tucked, in tail spin. Such are the manifestations of home, family, love. I understand nothing. I yield to cover and the repetition of breath. I count hours, empty pillows, the things I know. I study the blinded streetlight bending round the metal bed frame; I try to remember what I’ve forgotten. I make bed and home in wretchedness, bewilderment, sheeted and bound in the intimacy of my own peculiar breaking.

All night I wrestle, I wind. These ribbons mean danger. Turn up the femme, a fierce and unyielding light. A thin line between birth and death. Listen for the crack. Relief in the determination that I never have to be okay again. And because I don’t have to be, I will. This is the blood-boil bewilderment before the fever breaks. I can lose a few brain cells, a few dreams, a lover. Sweat out the impurity of want and certainty. At least I sleep on the groundfloor, now. At least I can sometimes sleep.

Laugh in the morning. This is what healing looks like. A sloughing of skin and want, a lamp left on through the night. We made it through again, we slipped the trap, the shot guns, the hounds; the plywood held against the bear, the kitchen knives stay sheathed in sheets. This really happened. I will tell you, I have to tell you. Over and over and until the terror is limited to words. We lived in hiding in a shed on a mountain. We filled bags with rocks. I lay with knives, baseball bats, a hatchet. Every night the bear came. A real bear that I never saw, only heard, measured paw prints and claw marks, counted tufts of fur. I couldn’t believe it myself, shock paralleled with fear and a fierceness that I will never be able to stick words to.  I cannot love without ferocity now– I love like a bear now, a mother bear, guarding. Worry billowing wider than want. I didn’t sleep so that they could. I couldn’t sleep so that they could. I age slipped to a helpless want of comfort that I never really had–  28 years old, I hugged a stuffed fox through the night to hold myself, with knives and bats nearby. More than I have hungered for anything, I wanted to eat that bear’s fucking heart. I wanted to warm my fish-cold feet in his disambiguated flesh.

My body can’t believe that it ended. But it did. It did. From garage to shed to car to motel to collective to shelter to shelter to shelter to shelter.  Home is the hardest of four letter words. It’s over now– when I remember I sing this to my heart, a lullaby. Hold my ribs in my palms and remember– it’s nearly over now.

It will be truly over next month. We will pass through from homeless to homed. Pray that it sticks. Pray that never again will we plummet. It is time to heal now. I am ready to heal now. I have been healing,  slow spiral to the deeper fixing terror of it. I can handle that now. I will handle it now. Tell the snow, the sheets, the plywood, the rats:  I can sustain unspeakable loss. Frost creeps in. Femme flares out. Sweat and steam and all the mud and suck of thaw. My bed is the bewilderment of spring, sharp pungent shoots sprung from rot and loss. I broke into parts to survive. Now the most wounded of us is healing the hardest. Parting the earth with root and hunger. We will risk to believe that the sun will come again, that grief will pass on the inevitability of breath and time. That we can push and pulse and slip past stone, against gravity, part layers of transfigured history– from dust to dust– to welcome heat and light and simply stun, stun, all those little parts of us that didn’t know we could turn waste to breath, that from the pitch dark and deepest pulse of burial we could flare the most beauteous and blinding of greens.

 

76 hours from now, I will be in the place where this bullshit started, if bullshit ever starts in any one place. Atlanta. My mind says, time to writhe and thrive, to break into a fury of potentials. My body insists that returning to Atlanta means that I will die. My fool face splashed all over the news, even middle school friends saw me. His fist, my throat, the stairs, the rape. Hunger and mold and cold and rupture. Atlanta is generations of personal and familal history wounded from the roots. Holding tenaciously in the piedmont, the foothills of the mountains, to the south the flatlands, the sunk and trembling lands, dark alligator waters, shotguns, sharks; to the north the bear, the shed. A terrain of violence, impending. Now is the time to part layers of transfigured history– from dust to dust, mold to glitter; from what was to what may be. I’m bringing my fucking heels, a sharp tongue, a short skirt. I’m coming.

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