On Contemplating Death Too Much, And Too Often

I hate the mess of it, not on my arms,
no, it’s my ankles and hips and stomach
and inside of thighs and calves. My arms
are clean and flecked with other things. Arms
are what people notice. When I was sent up
to the guidance counselor, two times, my arms
were the first thing I showed them. My arms
let me skip back down the halls and yell
into the bathroom sink and then yell
again into my hands and go back, arms
bared, to biology. I am nothing but someone
holding the marks of five years. Just someone.

It’s not even a question, why I didn’t tell someone
else. Everyone else is busy scrutinizing my arms.
It’s easy to understand, isn’t it, oh, you are someone
who writes love– but that’s bullshit. I am someone
who has been stupid, and stupid and young, someone
who slept well and often. No, better, I am someone
who stills walks with stupid on my ankles, head up.
I don’t talk about this because even talking brings up
so many nights that weren’t mine to begin with, someone
else’s fucking story, and besides, all I know how to do is yell,
not live, not like, not cry, not in public. Yelling,

that’s easy. Biologically acceptable. Animals yell,
the young are animal. Even the peacocks yell,
and they’re ridiculous. I used to bare my arms,
triumphant. Here is the piece that doesn’t fit. Yell
all you want. I am not here. I am yelling
in the bathroom sink, and I walk high,
still full of stones. My mother couldn’t stomach
it. She forced her fingers under my chin and yelled,
hurt and animal, from the diaphragm, up
and under. How can anyone grow up?

I make mess for myself. It grew up
on its own, but I planned it, precisely. Yelling
is all I know how to do. I hold my head up,
thinking this. Who gives themselves up
first? I have been young, and I am someone
who scheduled my own madness, looked it up
first. I am someone who stands up
on stupid ankles. They’re the worst now, armed
and too tough to cut through. It’s not my arms.
I am someone who hides it better than the stories.
Someone should stop telling the story, should stomach
the end of the lady who swallowed a fly. My arms
don’t flap like wings. My arms are just arms.