apples for winter
i have people
stored up in side of me like
things i keep little glass cases, or in pockets and hidden places
but never take out, like a series of
& sometimes i'll take them out to look at their faces
& they're nice faces, kind or beautiful or both, but
but none of them are here
& none of them are holding me like someone who needs to be held, not like someone
that it might be fun to hold
& none of them are real,
but you know, they all hurt.
i have people
lined up in my heart in neat little rows
& columns and no one can see it but the
columns i stand on are shivering
like cold and breaking bones
i have people who i suppose i might want
one day, if all the rest of them weren't there, too, looking on
from the bowels of my soul like bitter ghosts
although, of course, they aren't bitter because they don't know they could be
i have people i love
& people i have loved
& people in between
& people i have known & might have loved, or
wanted to love, or just wanted to be loved
i have them stored up like apples for winter, like
lifeboats on a ship that may or may not be broken, but that i don't want to seem
paranoid enough to check.
i have them all inside of me & god it hurts,
hurts, there, to have them all bursting & crashing around & to know that at any moment they might all come pouring out of me & for now they haven't
but it hurts.
look at me. i'm happy as a bird in a tra-la-lee-tree & i've practiced telling the people in my pockets how happy i am, really,
without anyone & as far as i can tell it's true. i walk, i,
i function, i laugh & it's for real
but there are still people sitting inside me
& there are too many
& they are too much
& they all hurt
& i keep them because really, i have none of them.
pining or looking for
a pick-me-up chipper letter from a friend who only knows how to be optimistic for me.
in love, actually, at least not in the usual understandable way because of all the people i kept
stuffed in drawers like cough drops & letter openers—
they are talking to me all at once
& i am worrying about all of them at once & if there is love among them,
like a new, true, June-sky-blue love,
i can't even hear it.
i'm standing in a cellar with too many apples
& i should throw some of them away but i don't know which one might be
the one to keep.
i'm standing on the deck of a ship sinking from the weight of too many lifeboats
& i'd take one & save myself but i don't know which one
i'm not traumatized, they just—
they hurt sometimes, when they get too loud, asking questions like why am i
still here, & questions like don't you think i'm making you miserable & demanding i
discard the others or demanding to be let
they hurt sometimes is all.