Stepping Stones, part 1

i am fourteen years old. the year is two thousand and four. my mom is away visiting my grandpa. he has cancer. he will not live much longer. i am feeling so alone. i miss my mom. i have already decided not to return to public school this year. it is August. i am sitting alone on the porch. there are no walls; it has not become my bedroom yet. i see a small piece of broken plastic in the dirt. it is sharp. i am sharp; if anyone gets close to me my anger and sadness will cut them. i pick the plastic up. i press it into my flesh, near my knee. i drag it against my skin again and again. i am bleeding. i lie when asked what happened. scraped myself on something. it was an accident.

 

i am seventeen years old. the year is two thousand and seven. my parents drove me to Burbank. we carried my things up to my third floor dormitory. at some point my dad cries. he does not want me to leave home. he has held on too tightly and i’ve been afraid to leave because i don’t want to break his heart. but at the same time i am angry at him because i want to be allowed to spread my wings and fly. i want to stop being his emotional crutch.

 

i am eighteen years old. the year is two thousand and eight. i meet a boy. he is really sweet. i tell myself i do not want a boyfriend. i want to be just friends with this boy. in a week’s time he will be my boyfriend.

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i forgive you…

i forgive you for being angry at her
i forgive you for gossiping about her
i forgive you for assuming things about her
i know you forget that you don’t really know her

i forgive you for not always loving R
i forgive you for sometimes hating R
i forgive you for not trying harder
i forgive you for giving up on me
i forgive you for not always loving me

i forgive you for not being a good mom
i forgive you for resenting your children
i forgive you for wishing you weren’t a mom
i forgive you for hitting J
i forgive you for neglecting T

i forgive you for blaming R
i forgive you for thinking it was his fault
i forgive you for being angry at him
i forgive you for struggling to forgive him

i forgive you for hating your hometown
i forgive you for talking badly about your father
i forgive you for not feeling attached to him
i forgive you for thinking badly about your mother

i forgive you for your suicidal thoughts
i forgive you for your dreams of running away
i forgive you for your need for attention
i forgive you for your flirting
i forgive you for your asocial behavior

i forgive you

i could go on all night
forgiving you
could spend the rest of my life
forgiving you

forgiving myself

childhood friend

when the air conditioner’s too cool
and you crave the warm outside air

I’m drinking coffee from a can,
but coffee’s always come in a can

like the ones we used as stilts
when we were twelve or eleven

and my best friend’s name started with K,
but her real one started with A

she never used that name until
she married a “man” who abused her

they had a daughter
who was born ill, now she’s eight

K now goes by K again
and has another daughter with another man

she has blue eyes and blond hair
not like her Mexican sister

the new man drives race cars
and makes friends with butterflies

it’s been too long since we’ve talked,
but I guess that’s what happens

we drift away until we all float alone
in the ocean, waiting to collide

Across the Universe

I thought about letting you go today,
but then I saw you just being you.
I don’t think I can ever get over you
as long as I can still see him in you.

The sixteen year old boy
who lent me his towel
after I had the crazy idea
to go swimming in the middle of the night.

It’s as if God is whispering,
“Don’t give up on him yet;
he still loves you, even if he can’t
say the words out loud.
Actions speak louder than words.”

The seventeen year old boy
who knew he wanted to spend his life with me.
The boy who became a father at nineteen
because he couldn’t bare the thought
of another man ever getting the chance.

Now he’s twenty four
and a better man
than he knew he could be,
but I think I knew it all along.

He shows he cares
without knowing he’s doing it,
gives himself away.

So I’ll keep holding on
because tonight you said “I love you”
but the words came out differently:
“Here’s some goat food.”
I love you too.