Pushcart Prize Nominee
Last week a guy did something to me.
I don’t think I need to elaborate.
Because to draw out the tale would be to get tangled in the web
and the web is not what is important.
I am what is important.
And I stopped myself from talking about it
or from crying to my mother,
because I was scared of what she would think.
Because some days, I look at my bare thighs and recall
every time I have asked to be kissed and I cannot help
but to conclude that is why he had deemed he could.
I know that no one is ever asking for it but
when it comes to my own body,
sometimes, I feel like the exception.
It’s not like the first time this has happened, but it’s still so raw. Not like
unpicking the stitches on old wounds and allowing them to ooze but like
a fresh cut,
and I think it must be because he seemed so nice. He seemed so
nice. But there were a thousand red cards held up
from the time he told me he could feel no empathy
to the bodies in his likes
and every late night text that lay in between.
I’d argue I was moth to the flame, bull to china shop but that is derivative
and if you are still reading this you already know what I mean.
Because it seems like we broken people
are drawn to those who are most dangerous
like we find comfort in the hurt and the instability
of those we know will never love us. Because real love risks
rejection, abandons the safety nets, and free falls into the dark,
and I cannot handle rejection.
I know repression is the root of obsession but it’s a week later and I am
drinking wine from the bottle, unable to cry, on my bathroom floor, where I
have come to feel so at home and everyone who knows me expects me to
spiral but I don’t but I don’t know how to unravel
because it all feels too tightly wrapped inside, like a cord restricting my
throat and I know I have already lost the thread of this metaphor somewhere
inside this poem.
I unfollowed everyone he knows,
just in case.
I’m trying to find a way to process what happened;
And saying it out loud sounds like a threat.
And there are words we never say.
Words that hurt too much.
And poetry once felt like an escape
but if language is the bed.
If language is the bed can I just say
that I no longer feel safe sleeping on my own.
I still can’t explain what happened
Or how I feel about it. But here’s my best try:
My bones began to splinter when I turned 15
and realized there would be secrets to hold forever
and the pressure of it all
started to grate on me
until little by little
I crumbled away.
Caitlin Mckenna is a Masters student and poet from Leeds. As a queer, socialist vegan, Caitlin spends her time baking, napping with her cats, and falling in love many times a day. Her work focuses upon mental health, identity, and self expression. Brittle Bones, in particular, is a confessional piece that tried to tackle the predicament writers feel when something significant befalls us and words seem to fail. It's an brutally honest piece but one I'm honoured to share.