things we leave behind

by emery rose

some thoughts pierce like bullets slice like knives choke like ropes

just like some poems are better left unwritten

first i feel you in my chest then your touch ripples like water through my every bone until it settles again back where it began

through the corner of my eye i can see you analyzing me staring in short bursts as if you might turn to stone if you watch for too long but you cannot stop you must catch me in a lie of your own invention

i watched your towering body crash heavily to the floor my face still filling with blood from the sting of your palm

but i did not push you at least not with my hands

you dropped on your own when you realized that you could not beat me into the child you wanted

then the stage curtains closed as i watched you crawl away

mouths like machine guns safety off trigger happy protecting words we do not wish to keep a righteous cause for righteous men with no love to speak

before everything changed we lived in what was left of the backdrop to a childhood

something that once was filled with the warmth of a family then sat cool and silent

behind drawn curtains we slept through the day in a place that nobody owned

but when the sun would set that house would come alive like the nocturnal animals inside

vagrants waded through haze that occupied every hallway with smoke and laughter

to be found sitting on the floor with backs against the wall in that half painted room

passing to one another burning moments of bliss as temporary as that summer

the stories that we tell constructed as a series of endless questions repeatedly asked of those who become their willing captive are answered only by the gift of passing glances from familiar strangers and nods of affirmation from long lost friends

last night i dreamed i was being followed around my house in the night by a shadow it was tall and slender and shaped like a person but it moved around corners and along the floor and up the stairs like a snake i could not escape and it filled my chest with helpless terror and it filled my head with a crescendo of white noise i gasped desperately and awoke to a dark room but the air was calm just the droning hum of a ceiling fan and the warm glow of a hallway light peeking through the doorframe so i placed my head back down and lied wondering for some time i wondered to whom or what the shadow belonged i wondered if it belonged to me and i wondered why facing it was so unbearable

you shine brighter than any star and it pains me that you let him douse your flame and all the while you believe he keeps you burning

i tucked the pills under my tongue and opened wide for you to see you might have taught me how to hide but never how to be

i sat there and answered questions feeding more fiction to the shrink you might have taught me how to lie but never how to think

i watched you trash all my makeup so i would just find more to steal you might have taught me how to act but never how to feel

i never cowered while you screamed even when you would strike or shove you might have taught me how to hurt but never how to love

i had to teach myself these things and it has taken many years i learned you are not good for me just worth your weight in tears

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