How I Learned to Love
When I was fifteen, I hated everything except for Weezer
and maybe like two people. And cereal.
One time a boy grabbed me in the music room
and kissed my neck in front of everybody.
I did not want to be kissed, but I thought I was supposed
to want to be kissed. I did not know what to do.
And so I laughed.
I knew you were supposed to laugh after things like that
The world had taught me to dress up my trauma
in short skirts and secret bathroom crying,
to protect the fragility of boys at all costs
When I was five, my father molested me
you become a strange human that way
You cannot whip yourself awake as a child
I should have been born a bird
When I turned six,
I stopped talking.
When I was twenty-five and my name was on the radio,
I asked people to write poems and send them to me
Maybe because I was starved of honest humanity
Half of the poems were about slit wrists
I do not want to know any more
about this brand of humanity.
All I know of love is hunger.
When I met you,
I planted my heart into the heavy
earth. I was scared,
But you smiled back.
Thank God I was not born a bird.
Evelyn Is Made Up
The little girl is a theater of shame and laughter.
She is eating lunch in the library again,
she tucks the desk into her ribs to feel smaller.
The hurt is ricocheting from her mother’s thighs
into the girl’s thighs. The mother’s hips are “too big”
the mother says. The silver hope can of slimfast sits
in the fridge, waits. The boys are cruel and
predictable. The girl renames herself Evelyn.
Evelyn does not cry at school, wears a ruby
cardigan, is the star. Evelyn can run so fast, she has
beautiful ribboned braids. She buys hot lunch
effortlessly—not even reduced, she pays full price.
Evelyn is made up. The girl knows this. Nothing is
real since the incest. The girl can’t breathe through
her nose because of the mold. The girl breathes
loudly, it is a good joke for everyone.
I am hurting so much this winter.
I am fucking everyone and nothing
matters, I wore braids to an award show, I started
wearing dark lipstick and crying in the shower
My sheets are beautiful, I kiss everyone I meet
The end of the world fits inside of my cocktail
I never fixed myself, I am my own arduous endeavor
I light myself on fire for everyone
I am the arsonist and the lover
All choked into one great sex bouquet
And Evelyn is here inside me, she is magnificent
and ordering room service like a pro
my mother still makes me cry from her love
& her sweet eyes & sugared compassion
the only parts I remember of my childhood
are lies I told myself to feel better
The girl with purple hair is sitting at my bar again.
I think she is beautiful.
But not in a way that I want to have awesome sex with her but in a way that I want to drink chocolate martinis together and go shopping for christmas vests that have tinkly bells and even maybe polar bears with hats on them.
She is having a full-body cry.
I am the worst bartender, simply because I don’t know how to counsel people without crying back at them.
She is crying about the state of women.
I know that we come from the same rotting wood, so all I do is nod.
Rape is not a man behind a bush with a knife, she laughs,
It’s kissing you on the mouth like whiskey at a nice bar.
The girl with purple hair and I are holding hands now
I only wanted an apology. An acknowledgement of what occurred.
Grappling as artists, as girls, as ships in bottles,
how do we change any of it?
I tell her I am going to write a poem.
She says no one wants to hear a rape poem, mary
Copyright © 2018 by Mary Lambert