Bay Village High School
Instructor: Erin Beirne
if i had met you when you were the same age as me,
would i help you become the amazing person you are
today, or add to the damage?
would i help you into bed
or into the world?
would i guide the cold glass to your desperate lips
or would i convince you you don't need it?
would the help i could offer be pure or poison?
i wish i had known you when you were young, but
i fear the unknown consequences of what i could have caused for you.
i wish i could say it would be enough
to be a lens in your coke-bottle glasses
a summer thread in your favorite sweater
but i need more,
i need to see who you really were.
if it were possible to go back and meet you in your chaotic youth
i pray what i would witness would further show me
what an incredible life you had led
before i was even a thought in your head.
I finally wake up, unrested, unnourished, unwell
Cold under three blankets, extra sweats, and a hoodie
Dreading what most consider the most important meal of the day
I throw myself to my feet, putting messy hair in a messier bun
Before I groggily make breakfast,
Hating myself the entire time
Most days I can do it
Force meals down my sore, unwilling throat
Where they'll hopefully stay
Fighting the voices and feelings trying to destroy me
Convincing myself I'm doing the right thing
Hiding from you, my hurt
Despite my best efforts,
I still falter, trip, fall—- just trying to stand
Undoing the progress we've worked so hard towards
I can hide from you my actions
But not their result
Can you even be mad?
All my behaviors are learned,
You're the best teacher, and I am a great student
Devouring your words, mannerisms that become my own
Hoping to prove to you I'm worthy and pure
But please don't worry!
Can't you tell by my size, my heart? I'm doing fine!
I can still walk with my friends through the woods
Past the giant oak trees that remind me how small I am in comparison
Soon, I hope it will be enough.
Then, I'll be willing to stop
Something I've said countless times before,
Hopefully, will prove true
Hopefully, you won't have to witness your daughter do this to herself any longer,
Hopefully, you can forgive her for all she's done
Hopefully, her heart will keep beating
For the first time in the woods i grew up in,
I felt life beating out of me,
Light through the leaves fading to dark.
I was 16, laying on the abandoned railway,
Watching the water carry fish under me.
My heart was a flower, without water or sun
Wilting before its time
"How do you know it's time to let yourself stop?"
I asked the boy I was with
I had been doing this to myself.
With fear in his eyes he told me,
"Once you're willing to ask that question"
Years later I shiver thinking back,
The horrors we show others,
Embracing them as normal for ourselves
I who did not die, who am still living
Still lying on the concrete, still slowing down
Begging myself to stop