My second grade teacher liked to ask us,
“How do you feel today, on a scale of one to ten?”
Ten always meant I’m super, thank you
and one was always not today, Mrs. MacAuley, not today.
But I never liked numbers, they would always
twist and rebel against my mind so I chose
to speak in colors instead.
January third - I am the color
of mint chocolate chip ice cream
but I’ve eaten all the chocolate chips.
I am calm.
February seventh - I am a bruise of
blues and violets today. I think it would
be best if I sat by the window.
These are unhappy colors.
April eleventh - I am turquoise, I am magenta,
I am every color in the rainbow.
April thirtieth - I am gray, I am silent.
May first - I am orange, the color of melting
creamsicles on a beach in July.
June twelfth - I am as yellow as the school bus
that will bring me home to summer. I am free.
Twelve years later, I still use colors.
The winter makes me feel cobalt blue, the ocean
turns me a seafoam green. Violets and purples
leave me uneasy and scarlet is a fever of fury.
Some nights I drown in shades of navy, denim,
and cornflower but other nights I meditate in forests of
harlequin and shamrock.
you leave me a blinding white followed by a soft yellow:
the color of sunlight after a period of darkness.
There are three things I want you to learn how to say.
“I love you”
and don’t just say it as an empty phrase,
say it with feeling,
say it to every person who comes to mind when you think of those three little words.
I know it’s scary,
I know it’s difficult,
but open yourself up
and shout it.
don’t say it under your breath,
when you love someone,
whether platonically or romantically,
it deserves to be shouted from every rooftop.
There will be some people in your life
that come in and just wreck everything,
they mess up your plans,
they hurt you,
and make you feel less than what you are,
so please learn how to say goodbye to them.
But I also want you to learn how to say goodbye
to even the people you want to stay.
not everyone stays,
and saying goodbye is like setting someone free,
and it won’t always come easy,
and it won’t always come without heartbreak,
but not everyone stays,
and it will do you a world of good to learn how to tell them
“I am worth it.”
there will be waves of sorrow in your life,
and you will feel as if you were the sand that the tide carries away,
you will feel as if it carries away your worth
it will feel like you are the left over rubble of a building
that had been burned down,
and you will feel less,
but please learn to say these words.
say them in the mirror when you have just woken up,
say them when your lover turns their back on you,
say them when you are opening up the refrigerator
and please, believe them.
You are more than sand that can just be washed away,
and you are more than just a few pieces of broken cement,
you are worth it.
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.
Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.
Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.