THIS IS THE PART OF THE STORY I’D RATHER NOT TELL
how at 13 I would lay awake at night deciding
which friend or family member would have to die
so that I might be aggrieved enough to be interesting,
so that I would have the permission to become more
withdrawn and mysterious and thus, more attractive.
I’d lay awake at night, plotting who it should be, how
it should go for the maximum impact. It would have
to be something epic so that I could become a rag doll
in his arms, bury my sweet face in the meaty expanse
of his 13-year-old chest and breathe deep the scent of his
Old Spice for my consolation. My malaise would surely
cause me to lose my appetite, and thus the tragic death
of my loved one would conveniently double as a diet plan.
In the version of the story where a masked gunman
breaks into our school and holds us all hostage, I am
always able to tackle him after he gets off a few
shots. One of them hits me non-fatally in the shoulder
and my current infatuation takes off his shirt to help
staunch the bleeding. I’m not sure how the story proceeds
from there because at this point in my dream I always
began to masturbate. I had determined that certain aunts
and cousins were important, but ultimately non-essential
enough to my daily life to be suitable options. Certain friends
had also been earmarked as acceptable, and I would update
my list with god each evening, playing through the
circumstances of their death and grieving each one with
actual tears so god might see what good choices I had made.
I didn’t want him to think I had cheaped out and picked a
distant relative or a secret enemy to exchange for my love’s
fulfillment. What kind of love would that be, anyway?
When it finally happened, there was no one but the floor
to fall into. Nothing but the gasping choke for my consolation.
I wouldn’t let anyone touch me. The sacrificial loved one?
My best friend with the crooked smile and first kiss around
the corner, her mother who kissed my head like a daughter,
her father who would fetch me midnight bowls of cereal,
her sister, getting ready to start college. The epic disaster?
An exploding plane.
To whom much is given, much is expected.
I no longer speak to god.
I love like I’d kill for it.
from Rattle #32, Winter 2009
2009 Rattle Poetry Prize Honorable Mention
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Emily Kagan Trenchard: “I love poetry because it cracks the skull open in much the same way science does. It illuminates and tickles, demands discovery, and insists upon a struggle with contradiction and complexity.” ( website)