August is second-degree burns / from hands grazing against metal / it is waking from sweat-dripping nightmares / and no more room for intimacy / August is a silent scarring / a tension you can taste / stinking rotten in the air / it is a dozen new bruises / peppering my limbs every morning / how my mother wished she could see / a little more color in me / so I show her my arms / my legs / my neck / I beg her, make him leave / please / I won’t come home unless he’s gone / her smile is thin but gorilla glued / she says, I’m just so tired of fighting / can’t we pretend a little more instead? / I board myself up forty miles east / I eat this fake-happy like smoke-staining fruit / soft hair after downpour / and dreams of scissor-stabs tucked neat between my ribs / my brother no longer speaking to me / and forgetting to wake up tomorrow / it’s rush hour in hell / a car swerves to miss me / driver screaming, watch where you’re going / are you trying to die? / I look back at him, doe-like / his honks still blaring in my ears / I have nothing to say.
Recipe for Self Care
- watch every tearjerker you can think of. read about the first dog to die in space, think of her desperation as the temperature rose to disintegration. listen to the sounds of elephant mothers weeping for their young. and cry- openly, loudly, hideously.
- flail your fists and scream at the sky, so loudly the strangers around you glance your way and walk faster, but not quite loud enough to make them slow and ask if you need help.
- look yourself in the mirror and convince yourself you’re alive.
- take the project you made in high school ceramics class, the oddly misshapen thing you got a failing grade for, and throw it against the wall. run over it with a car. obliterate it.
- eat the whole planet. notice how it doesn’t even fill you.
- log off twitter. then delete it entirely.
- take a whole melon and light it on fire. watch it burn. look up into the clouds. how they swallow the smoke without hesitation.
- write a song for a past self that desperately needed something to believe in.
- walk away from your childhood home. take only what you can carry, and never turn back.
- lie down in the middle of the street at night while the sky sheds rain in its newest tantrum. let it wash away everything you can’t bear to look at.
- kiss as many girls as possible. all the girls in existence.
- get a dog, or cat, or any animal that looks at you with only love for what you are. hold them close to your body. sleep.
- take a shower. hold the water to boiling and stand beneath the downpour. let it wash into every nook in your body. then sing. or cry. or scream. whatever sound your mouth needs to make, let it.
- call anyone you’ve been thinking of and tell them you love them. call the people who maimed you and forced your mouth closed and scream endlessly into their ears in one long, feral sound. because closure isn’t real, but screaming is.
- write every word you held in on hundreds of thousands of multi colored sticky notes. hang them on the walls, and when you run out of room, the ceilings. cover the sun with them. lie down beneath their neon glow and sleep.
- move somewhere you’ve never heard of. somewhere no one cares about your existence, but they can learn to. grow peonies that smell of any semblance of heaven you ever dreamt up. fall in love- with a human or your art or the sunrise or your dog companion or ripe oranges on a saturday afternoon or a garden gnome you pass by on your way home. or yourself.
- breathe in and out, slowly. deliberately. and go to sleep.
Apology for My Brother
i used to believe elton john wrote his song
after you, because in the back of my head
you were always dying, slow and gutless, and
then coming back to life months later. sometimes,
you only come back as a husk, a shell, eyes furious
red and flashing dull with nothing. there was a sound,
a crackling and hissing, the whine of sirens, and i
watched our mother gouge her eyes out. she said
she could hear your pain from 700 miles away, but
at least now she’d never have to see it. my womb must
be haunted, she howls, how it breeds all these corpses. i keep
her eyes in a jar for you, brother, and bathe them
in nectar every night, but i can never do away with
the tears. i think you were her last hope. her very last
heartbreak. after you, what could be left of her?
i dreamt the day you finally returned, you brought
a newborn son you couldn’t wait to abandon. i woke
up scolding my heart for being so callous. i want to say
something kind for you. i want to tell you it’s been
easier to survive here, that we’re safer now, but i could
never pretend as well as you. the truth is I can’t stop
being angry. the truth is i never wanted you to be
the kind of brother to let me fall under fists. the kind
of son to sweep his mother’s bruises under rugs, until
she too is the color of dust. does it feel good to run?
how does california smell when your own family
tastes of old pennies and black eyes? this is the hard
part, brother. this is the crush of tenderness
we’re bleeding to feel. this is your childhood bed, sheets
empty and crinkled for months now. how our mother
digs inside the mattress for a hint of your warmth.
this is how badly we need you. how desperately, madly,
dangerously we need you. this is how sorry i’ve always been,
buried somewhere beneath the hurt. how little i can
expect from you knowing you had to fish new lungs out
of the sea and tear yourself a new home just to grieve.
Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and family & human development. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018) and Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019).