What you are now
By Aelya Slm
You are a mathematician.
You are God, you are Freud, prayers offered at the age of seven, you are every parental interaction that should have been measured twice cut once.
You are a cartographer, you are valleys and ditches and hollows where the mud sticks to your shoes. You are the untended grass on the hillsides of your thighs.
You are vultures circling flooded graveyards, pulling at bones and teeth.
You are centuries of rich food, centuries of the brown and the hungry, the brown and well-fed, the frugal and the pious, the food-savers, your mother reminding you that wasting food is a sin.
You are bile, you are corrosive, volcanic eruptions, skeletal hands dipped in acidic liquid, the country’s hazard communication standard, your nails are short for every reason except “I like them that way”, the knuckles of your right hand have teeth marks.
You are animals or maybe just one of them, you are hunter and hunted, you are carcasses on the Savannah, gazelles with broken legs giving birth to fawns, the cry of beautiful birds as the day breaks, lions on their haunches, men with rifles and cameras, the flash of teeth before the lights go out and the ground is stained with blood.
You are writers that never publish, those with thoughts and no words, the temperament of the artistic but none of the talent, journals locked away in attics with old dresses, no one to ask you what you thought of love or the war where boys no older than 18 fought for the things they didn’t understand.
You are no one’s muse, no one’s Degas dancer, no one’s art history, no one’s art, no one’s history.
You are every ordinary experience, every economic privilege, you are ungrateful, but God you are so hurt and you’re so sorry you’re like this and you’re apologizing but you never need to, do you. You never need to, do you.