1. I’ve gotten used to sleeping
on one side of the bed, making
space for you, always, room
for your body to rest.

2. Sometimes we fall asleep
with our fingers intertwined,
and sometimes when I am alone
I wake up with my hands
clasped together, a reminder,
I guess, to hold on.

3. These walls know the sound
of your voice, your laughter
ringing through the midnight
stillness, as sharp and clear
as day, the stories you tell
no one else but me.

4. I find traces of your lips
on coffee cups, pillow cases,
the back of my head, warm
outlines I never have to wait
too long to fill.

5. For years I tried to learn how
to live by myself,
but you taught me the difference
between that and being able
to live with myself.


One day they will discover the shipwreck
of our love, expert hands sifting through
the debris of silent disappointments and
things that were not supposed to hurt, but
did. They will chip away at sealed doors,
futile attempts at trying to rouse what
once lorded above the waves, majestic
in all the moons it thought it had ahead.
We won’t know what they’re trying to
find. Neither will they. The flotsam
and jetsam will not make much sense
to them, pieces of wreckage that have
long lost any semblance of hope. And
when a lone sea creature hovers curiously
nearby, a question forming on its delicate
fins, they will know it is time to go, leave
all the cargo behind; to rise rise rise
until they break the sparkling surface,
gasping for air and life, buoyed by the
promise and warning that it almost
always takes an ocean to sink.


There is a flash of gold mane and not much else; the king
of the jungle sleeps out of sight. Show’s over. Head home.
That day at the zoo I asked you why they keep spectacular
beasts in cages, and you said, “Did you know that almost
700 people every year are attacked by lions?” I didn’t, but
I wanted you to say that we keep them in cages so we can
admire their honeyed fur, the crystal clear danger in their eyes.
It’s been months since anybody said what I actually wanted
to be said. A stranger once asked me how it feels to love
someone older and wiser, a steady ship in a sea of paper-thin
lifeboats, and I couldn’t quite tell her that being born years
apart is just background noise, a footnote in the murky history
we’ve built for ourselves. It’s been months since I said what I
actually wanted to say. You reach for my hand while crossing
a busy street, and I wonder how a man is shaped to be so sure
of himself, so sure of his strength and ability to protect against
the rush of steel, silent leers, limbs ready to snatch and run.
I’ve heard the rumors about me, hastily manufactured in line
at the cafeteria, or in between classes; how I wear your good
fortune on my sleeve, and around my neck, shiny and new, and
dangling from my arm in genuine leather glory. How I never
have to work a day in my life. They wonder what you’re getting
in return, exactly, because it can’t be nothing. “It doesn’t work
that way,” they say. I’ve heard the rumors about me, too many
to keep up with, when all I really want is for them to be happy
for me. We keep spectacular beasts in cages, blind them with
our flashing lights and piercing stares that proudly announce
how we’re better than them, because we roam free, because we
don’t sleep behind bars. It is a waiting game that someone is
always bound to lose. You keep my photo in your corner office,
wish someone would pause and ask who I am. There is a flash
of gold mane and not much else. Show’s over. Head home.

friends forever

There is a buzzing in my head from tonight’s heavy laughter
and wine, our lips stained red and our feet sore from dancing
in heels we only wear when we need to be seen, need to tower
over an entire city of shaky self-worth. Stamps on my arm,
smoke in my hair—souvenirs of teenage glory, when everyone
who hates you out of envy is a badge you pin onto your chest,
a trophy you show off on the top shelf. I end up driving you
home, listening to slurred directions I don’t need, leading myself
into battle against incoming headlights and a thick cloak of sleep.
I wait for you to say thanks, but all I get is a wink and a wave,
a finger to your lips, urging me not to tell as you sneak in
through your back door. We have secrets that have embedded
themselves into my skin, and I don’t know at which point
I’d agreed to share your sins. I asked for all of this, didn’t I,
when I decided to be your friend?

Remember when we promised we wouldn’t let the day end
without forgiving each other? But maybe the promises you
make when you’re six no longer count when you’re sixteen,
the years canceling out our conviction like writing on the
sand washed away by a frothing wave. Remember when we
said we’d always tell the truth—if not to other people, then
at least to each other? These days you don’t even look me
in the eye when you say there’s a party you can’t invite me to,
I wouldn’t like it there anyway, I wouldn’t like the guests,
I wouldn’t like the music, I wouldn’t like that version of you
anyway. We hide parts of ourselves in desk drawers and
underneath sheets, far too many places to keep track of.
What happens if we need those parts back someday?
Remember the face paint and glitter and the pom-poms
we made with our hands? Remember road trips with your
dad at the wheel, pit stops for ice cream cones and popcorn
—remember how you said you’d always wanted a sister?
Now it’s all Friday night strobe lights and scorching beach
weekends, the strained smile that stretches across your face
when I emerge from the bathroom in a swimsuit, tugging
at the strings as if this would help put everything in place.
You have no idea how much I hear when you nod and turn
away. You have no idea how much damage we have done
to the softer girls we used to be.

Today I saw you scrolling through your feed, awarding hearts
to everyone’s posts but mine, your double-tap aim missing me
by millimeters. I wonder why we even still follow each other’s
grids, maps guiding us nowhere safe. I wonder what you see
when you see my life in squares.


Women often say—on a first date or at the altar or in the quiet
of the room they share with the man they adore—thank you
for making me feel beautiful, as if beauty were a present someone
can bestow on you, as if beauty weren’t something you already
own. As a young girl I dreamt about meeting a boy who would
see past my dark skin and my lack of curves and height, and
zoom in on my smile or my nose or the way I tucked my hair
behind my ears. As a young girl I shut the door, closed my eyes,
and dreamt about meeting a boy who would call me beautiful
every day, declare it so that there would be no room for doubt,
settling every fear I’ve ever had in my heart about being
too much of something, or not enough of something else.

Find a man who will make you feel beautiful. Love a man who will
make you feel beautiful.
Over and over again we hear this, in cafés
and schools and salons and shoe stores and over the pounding
music of a soaked, crowded bar. Gray-haired women say this
with a steady certainty, a statement of solid weight, while girls
in crop tops and sneakers whisper it to each other, a pinky-swear
promise, a question mark dancing on the tips of their tongues.

I’ve had men call me beautiful, but sometimes only because
I asked. I’ve had men make me feel beautiful but not loved,
and I’ve learned through the years the difference between
these two, how just because someone thinks you look great
first thing in the morning doesn’t always mean he’ll choose
to be there at the end of your worst day, when your thoughts
are a tangled mess and your words are sharp and cold and
cruel. How just because someone looks deep into your eyes
and sees stars doesn’t mean he’ll see the good in you when
all you can see is despair, how just because someone can’t
get enough of your silk-spun skin doesn’t mean he’ll find hope
when every single thing you touch turns into hurt. I’ve made the
mistake of believing there were men who made me feel loved
but not beautiful, but I know now that the right kind of men—
the ones who are kind and patient and brave and strong—
will make you feel loved first, and then beautiful. They will
make you feel kind and patient and brave and strong, and then
beautiful. I know this to be true because I’ve felt it, over
and over again, in the unlikeliest places, floating in the middle
of the ocean, or hiking up a mountain listening for the rushing
sound of waterfalls, or carefully balanced on top of an elephant,
or on stage, or on a plane headed somewhere that isn’t home,
or at a tattoo parlor gritting my teeth against the buzzing of
the needle against my veins, or at my desk trying to tone down
an angry email, or in my room trying to write this piece.

Find a man who will make you feel beautiful. Love a man who will
make you feel beautiful.
Over and over again we hear this, but
maybe there are more important things a man should make
you feel other than beautiful—kind and patient and brave
and strong. Phenomenal, all on your own. So find a man
who will love you without makeup, but with makeup as well,
because he knows that sometimes you need lipstick and blush
to get through the day. Find a man who thinks your mind
is beautiful and crazy and complicated, an experience all on
its own. Find a man who will show you off to his friends
not because you can turn heads in a dress and heels, but
because you can talk about the things you like and the places
you’ve been and the ideas that keep you up at night.

Find a man who knows you’re beautiful, knows it as an
undeniable truth, feels it with every fiber of his being, but
is certain, on your first date or at the altar or in the quiet
room you share, from the middle of the ocean to the top
of a mountain and in all the unlikeliest places, that you are
so much more than that.  

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


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I write, edit, and produce books 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