today the world

Today the world will tell you about the fault in your scars. It will tell you to keep 
them hidden, beneath a shirtsleeve or under the covers on a Friday evening,
when everyone else is dressed to let their skin breathe, let their youth roam
free, like paper planes and fairy wings, delicate things designed to take flight.

Today the world will tell you about the fault in your scars. It will tell you to keep
them hidden, or else it will tell you to brandish them about like swords, and if
you are brave enough to ask what you are fighting for anyway, or fighting against,
the world will tell you that perhaps you are brave enough to figure that out
on your own, too.

Today the world will tell you that your scars are a part of who you are, like your 
legs and fingers and nape and chest, like that mole just below your left cheekbone
or the birthmark tucked underneath your chin. Like your eyes and hair 
and spine and lungs and heart.

Today the world will tell you to take a good, hard look at your scars. Count them,
it will say, the big ones and the little ones and even the ones so faint and faded
nobody else can see them but you. Count them because you need to keep track
of how many there are, and where they've settled on your body. Count them
because tomorrow someone might ask you for your number, and you have to
be ready to say five or twelve or twenty two. You have to know
where each one belongs.

But someday—I don't know when, you'll have to be patient—the world will
tell you, enough with the scars already. Enough with things that have already
healed. Enough with things that no longer bleed. Someday the world will
tell you, hey, let's talk about music. Let's talk about poetry. Let's talk
about art. Let's talk about the things pain does other than leave scars, greater
things, hopeful things. Someday the world will hand you a fresh serving of
sadness or betrayal or disappointment or hunger or grief, along with a pen
and paper, a guitar, a paintbrush, a camera, a drum set, a microphone stand, 
and you'll know these aren't weapons; these are tools, these are companions,
these are your new friends.

And the world—this magnificent, magical, 
terrifying, looming, spectacular span
of earth and water and sky—
will look you straight in the eye and say:
"This is your hurt.
Learn to use it well."

running low

We have nothing left for each other. This
comes to us cold and hard on a Thursday morning,
our empty rumbling hearts waking us 
before the sound of the alarm we had carefully 
set the night before. I am lying in bed with
eyes wide open, and so are you, and in better days
one of us might have gotten up to forage for
sustenance, selfless and noble so that the other
would be fed, and nourished, and full
of the warmth that can only come from living
a life that goes above and beyond enough. But today 
is not one of the better days; it is not even
a good day, and so we press our backs
against a mattress as unyielding as the brick wall
we once spray-painted with grafitti promises:
you and me together, you and me forever.

We tried to beg
for a brand-new shot at happiness,
but the man at the store only had secondhand
joy to spare, diluted by great expectations
and half-hearted forgiveness, and even as beggars 
we didn't want to be unable to choose.

We tried to borrow
time, and bargain with the world to wait
until our ducks were lined up
in a neat little row, ready and willing and able. 
But we missed deadlines and chances, gave up
eventually on trying to keep up.

We tried to steal
kisses on street corners,
light from passing vehicles,
heat from fires we had not built ourselves. 
Neither of us believed we would ever get caught
in the milky tangled threads of our own untruth.

We have nothing left for each other, and it is 
so easy to leave, when this is all 
we are leaving behind. Our hunger
roars like thunder now, eager
for an easy free taste of 
something other than empty.

adolescent angst

Lucas Blue told me a secret: He hated it, this place that should always feel like home but no longer did. He hated its stifling small-town chatter, the dismal lack of art and adventure and critical thinking, the straitlaced boys who didn't watch porn or smoke pot, the good girls who thought they would go to heaven if they got shiny straight As and didn't let any boy touch their breasts. He hated the crying babies in church, the violent heat that clawed at your skin, leaving it red and raw. He hated the leering priests, foaming at the mouth with their platitudes and self-righteousness, Padre Damaso anachronisms in a time where the pope had a Twitter account. He hated, and this was one hatred that filled him with remorse, the hunched old ladies with their shawls and prayer books, clutching their worn rosary beads as if meaning to squeeze some life out of them, smelling like aged paper and candle wax and imminent death. Fuck this, he thought at some point every day, resentment shooting out of his limbs in sharp bursts, a dark cloud of defiance trailing him everywhere he went.

moving out

On a drizzly Thursday afternoon Renee dutifully helped me pack my things into big brown boxes, starting with the closet, then the bookshelf, then the desk littered with loose paper and pens that no longer wrote, gum wrappers, magazine clippings, odds and ends. On my nightstand there were novels I hadn’t read yet, and a bronze jewelry box with my parents’ wedding rings, and a hairbrush already painstakingly cleaned of stray strands. Renee said very little; all week she’d been kind to me, tiptoeing around my feelings, sensitive and maternal. Her compassion suffocated me. I had always thought it would strengthen me.
“Do you remember when I threw a raw egg in your face?” I asked, attempting to turn the somber mood into something else, something that didn’t resemble a funeral or the aftermath of a catastrophe. “Remember?” I asked again. She probably did, because it wasn’t that long ago. It was in the middle of a Monopoly game, and she had been asking for it, trash-talking and cheating all afternoon. The egg was for a science class experiment—an infant dummy. We had to feed it, bathe it, watch over it, change its diaper, rock it to sleep. We had to make sure it didn’t break, didn’t get lost. We had to keep it safe. The point was to eventually reach the conclusion that we weren’t ready for babies of our own yet, which most of us already knew anyway. We were twelve; it wasn’t like any of us seriously considered otherwise. When the yolk ran down Renee’s neck and arms like slime oozing out of a monster’s skin, she was the first to laugh. I followed suit. I remembered how nice it felt to know that we were both forgiven.
We filled the boxes quickly with my things. In the corner of the room there was a black garbage bag overflowing with everything I no longer wanted or needed, everything my life could no longer accommodate. Every few minutes Renee tossed something in wordlessly. I liked that she didn’t have to ask me whether or not something was rubbish. She knew me well enough. Her hair hung down her back in a haphazard braid as she stacked my sweaters systematically, folding the arms inward first, then outward, then halving the body horizontally. She arranged them by color, and at some point I wanted to ask when and why a privileged girl like her learned how to do anything remotely domesticated. When she was done with the sweaters, she took my dresses off their hangers one by one, their soft fabric gliding over her small, smooth hands. In the empty closet the bare hangers looked forlorn, as if they had suddenly been stripped of value, as if they were waiting for someone that would never come. When we were almost finished, I looked around the room. With nothing in place save for the furniture, it seemed unfamiliar to me; already it was beginning to feel like it wasn’t mine. Soon it would be reduced to a place in my mind I would explore only when nostalgia hits, lumped in with stories of my childhood. There was an awful lot of space, space everywhere—underneath the bed, behind the door, beside the window, inside the drawers, next to the bed. I wondered why I ever required that much.

if love feels strange on your tongue

Say "like" first. Always say "like" first. Like is easy, fluid. You can float
on it, your joints light, face tilted to the sun like a marigold blossom.
Say "You make me happy," and if that's too much, sandpaper its edges
down to "You made me happy today/this week/this month." Happiness
isn't love, not necessarily, and anyway you can always choose to take
that happiness and make it your own, so that nobody else will have to
give it to you, if that's how you want it. Only if that's how you want it.
Say "I want to meet all your friends. I want to meet your family, see
the place saved for you at the dining table, listen to the chairs scrape
the floor as the seats are filled by people who know what you look
like in your pajamas, barefoot, bathed in the glow of the refrigerator
at two in the morning." You will want to say this in one swift breath—
anything too slow might be mistaken for tenderness, and anything too
tender might be mistaken for love. Do not whisper anything just yet.
Say "There is nobody else like you," in a firm, clear voice, even though
you're not sure if this is true; maybe you just haven't scoured the city
enough for boys with maple syrup smiles and hands that feel like knots.
Say "You can come to me when you're tired. You can come to me when
you're sad. We can eat soup from a can and watch Japanese game shows
until you are laughing again, and here is a blanket to drape over your
knees and a tall glass of warm milk." Say "Home is wherever you are."
Say "Let's see the world together. Let's see as much of it before we die."
Do not falter. Try hard not to blink. Say "Let's go. Right now. Let's go."

All text original work by Marla Miniano. Powered by Blogger.


My Photo
I write books and edit a teen magazine for a living. I also: take photos, attempt poetry, make travel plans, snore, do the dishes, daydream on the treadmill, and dress like a loose grandma. For feedback, questions, and invitations, email me at