Who Am I?

I. A daughter

I was born to walk the middle ground, the first child of type A and type B
[and what does that make me?]
Constantly stuck between too small and too tall,
Talks too little, reads too much, sings too loud,
Hips too big, mouth too small,
Needs too little, wants too much, dreams too big.
I am a combination of everyone I’ve ever known,
But mostly I am too much like my mother,
And too much like my father,
[and too torn between the two people I am to really know who to be.]

II. A sister

I had bite marks on my back and my arm in a sling
Because that’s what it means to have your thunder stolen
When your parents decide to procreate again.
[I guess it also means feeling important,
Because someone looks up to you so much
That it makes you want to be better than you would be for yourself.]
And I would have laughed if you said someday I’d be proud
To have him for a best friend,
But the first time he asked for my advice
[because he thought I was wise]
I thought maybe the bite marks were worth it.

III. A friend

I learned more about friendship from the people who didn’t stick around
Than from the ones that did,
Because I learned when to hold on
And when to let go.

IV. A scholar

I’ve been taught to question everything.
[“Don’t be so gullible, Gwen,”
I hear as I fall for another stupid joke.
“Don’t believe anything you can’t prove.”]
I go to class and they tell me,
“Think critically, Gwen. Pick it apart. Find the truth.”
But I don’t think there’s just one truth.
I think sometimes the truth is that you don’t have to question everything.
[my professors disagree.]

V. A writer

My fingers bleed a lot because I pick the skin,
My brain bleeds words because, because?
[because it’s the only way I know how to feel.]

VI. A survivor

Once I thought that to be happy,
My bones had to poke out of my skin,
And my worth as a person was dictated by a number
On a scale
[or the label of my jeans.]
But when I stopped chasing perfection,
I found someone wonderful,
[Daughter, sister, friend
Scholar, writer, survivor]
I found me.


Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge. I don’t usually write poetry.


On Wanderlust

Sir Alistair Rai

“I want to do something.”

She looks up from her magazine with surprise. “Okay, so do something.”

“No, I mean really do something,” I say back, stretching my hands forward to grab my toes. “Not just, like, I want to go get some pizza.”

“We could, if you want. Go get pizza.”

I sigh and release my stretch. “I don’t want pizza. I want an adventure.”

She rolls her eyes and casually flips to the next page of the magazine. She takes a moment before she sighs and laughs a little. “What are you, Inspiration Barbie?”

“Never mind,” I tell her, bending into a forward fold.

“No, really,” she says in a softer tone. “What do you mean?”

I straighten and look her in the eye. She is concerned, and wondering, and she has every right to be. But in her eyes there is sturdiness and a sense of peace. She knows where she belongs. She has people and places and things that make her whole and complete. I see her and I think, she will never understand what it’s like to be missing so many pieces.

I like to imagine that when we are born, we scatter fragments of ourselves all over the world. Sometimes they fall into some specific place, like a beautiful lake shrouded by mountains, and sometimes they fall into people. And then when you go to those places, or you meet those people, you can recognize those tiny little pieces and allow them to fill the empty spaces of your soul.

If you are lucky, maybe you can find them pretty quickly, at least enough of them to feel satisfied. But sometimes it feels like you’re losing more than you’re finding. Sometimes more of you gets lost along the way.

And when there’s too much hollow space, you get hungry. You get cravings nothing in the world can satisfy. You become a creature of lustful desire, hunting down new people and new places and new things until you’re too exhausted to carry on. You settle in and try again to live a normal life, but you can’t. There’s too much of you left desolate and alone.

I can’t be here, practicing yoga poses on my living room floor. I can’t be here, listening to lectures and following dress codes and completing assignments. I can’t be here, eating the same quinoa pilaf every single day.

I have to do something. To fight the emptiness. I have to try.

But she is so sure. I will not break her with my brokenness.

“I could go for some pizza after all,” is all I say.

She puts down her magazine and picks up her car keys. “Well then let’s go,” she says with a smile, scooting her feet into her boat shoes and turning to me expectantly.

“Let’s,” I reply as I stand to meet her. Pizza doesn’t sound so bad. I am, after all, insatiably hungry.