Maybe if I squint hard enough,
the black streets will light up in greens
and reds like it’s just rained, and the world
will look just a bit more new, more breathtaking.
I find my way to a coffee shop, half an hour away
from its closing, I stumble into the bathroom
to assess the damage, and it’s just as I thought.
My eye makeup is splattered like paint thrown
haphazardly against the raw, pale canvas that is my face,
my clothes are skewed, my hair tangled like nests.
Looking back at me is a girl I thought I left behind,
wild-eyed, scared, pathetic almost. The kind of spooked,
sad creature you’d find wandered onto your porch
by chance, the kind you’d leave out a dish
of food and water for, out of pity. Where did you come from?
I ask her. And how do I make you go away? Maybe if I
knew how to smile, if I didn’t splutter and panic
around well-meaning strangers, or shake uncontrollably
at the sight of too-loud, rowdy boys. Maybe if I loosened up,
if I swallowed the wild, all-consuming pain in between
swigs of vodka and let all the boys fuck me raw, maybe the girl
in the mirror would be beautiful, dangerous, utterly free.
Or maybe I’m just not squinting hard enough.