The Cold of the Night

Female Warrior # 17

There’s something to be said for getting out of bed and going about your day. For understanding the sullen weight of what you’ve got, and for putting the mask on before you leave. For putting your kitchen knives away when you need to, locking yourself in your room and putting on comedy after comedy.

For practicing smiles in the mirror so you can try to make them look real. For going out in the rain, running in it, arriving at an open field and standing in the center as the rain turns to drizzle and it seems like it’s all coming from the multitudinous stars in the sky.

For exercising restraint where you never used to, sitting on the bathroom floor and dislocating your shoulder so you can feel the sweet release of pain, long after your cutting days, and this one seems better because it leaves no marks.

For going back to your hometown and sitting on the old swingset, chains rusty, creaking in the breeze, and there’s a way to dismount so that you’re standing in place when you get off, and you’ve done it now, 20 years after the first time. For remembering old bike tricks: look ma no hands, butt steering, I believe I can fly, etc.

For undoing years of reptilian brain training and cutting your ties with your bio parents, and to dislocate and dislocate and locate the source of the pain but to have no means of stopping it, at least none in sight.

For waiting at the bus stop with no route in mind, sitting on the bench and talking to dozens of people over the hours, imbibing stories, eating anecdotes, consuming the lives of those who came before.

For painting again, flecks of new gamboge on your chin and canvas, becoming something, though what that something is you don’t know. For telling yourself it’s the last time you’ll dislocate and then doing it again, feeling like you’re a stranger to yourself. For collecting the bodies of animals who have died on the road and to feel their blood on your hands, sticky as you try to wipe it away.

For defying childhood orders and staring directly into the sun, watching it fall from the sky until the pain is gone and you can see the giant spots in your eyes, they won’t go away, at least not for a while. For setting your shoulder for the umpteenth time, lying in bed and the sweat running down your forehead, passing the corners of your eyes till you’re not sure if they’re tears.

For calling your bio dad and only listening when he says hello, only breathing, and when he disconnects you listen to the dial tone for two minutes before hanging up. For taking the things from your old life and collecting them into a pile, and to light this pile on fire, catching the way the black smoke spirals and whirls, the way the flames dance and twist and lick the cold of the night.

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