Sep 11

i am me.

it's 12am on nine-eleven-twenty-twenty.
my name is rowan, and i am eighteen.
i have struggled. i have cried. i did not think i'd make it this far.
i did not think i'd do half the things i have.

i did not think i knew how to love. how to cry. how to be human.
i believed i was a waste of a creature,
a husk of what someone was supposed to be.
that i was not meant to be here.

sixteen. that was the age. i wasn't supposed to live past then.
but i am here. i am here on wobbly legs. i am standing on my own.
i am here, and i will not go.
by virtue of creation, i am allowed to live.

there is nothing anyone can say or do that can take that away from me.
i am my own person. i am a person. i am me.
nothing more, nothing less. i am me.
i have a heartbeat, i have blood coursing through my veins. i am me.

getting this far was turbulent. still, i am recovering.
Sep 10

nine-eleven

to think that i will be a legal adult tomorrow.
i could vote. i could buy fish at petsmart.
i could apply to places like aldi's and tractor supply.

my birthday, for me, has always been tinged with sadness.
how am i supposed to be happy on a day of tragedy?
looking at the news, it's all the same footage, all the same photos.

honestly, i did not think i would live this long.
i was banking on something happening so i wouldn't have to be an adult.
i am not ready. i do not think i am ready. i still do not feel as if i am ready.

i wanted to be a child for a while. to be sheltered, so i wouldn't have to grow up.
so i wouldn't have to learn and become someone.
i should be panicking, shouldn't i? or be excited?

i don't know what to do, but i'll learn.
that's something i can do.
i'll learn as much as i can about being human.
Sep 07

placidity

i watch the numbers tick up.
i read the headlines.
suny oneonta shuts down for the semester -
six hundred cases.

i go outside.
i see the masks, worn properly or not.
the spraying of hand sanitizer,
quick rubbing of hands together.

shared door-handles,
stair-way railings,
desks on which you can still see
the faint leftovers of anti-bacterial wipes.

the zoom calls.
i see my classmates, my professors on the screen.
in my dorm, i stay, usually, alone.
my roommate is staying at home.

i wonder if i am wrong for not feeling anything right now.
i spit out excuses upon excuses about why i don't want to visit home -
"what if i'm asymptomatic?" "what if i have it but we don't know yet?"
"i don't want you to put into danger, there's fifty, sixty, seventy cases now."

"i don't know if i can come home for my birthday."
Sep 04

the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

for the longest time, i struggled with myself.
i was always afraid. of almost everything.
i hid my fear with a loud attitude, with loud words
and actions that even i didn't understand.

i absorbed things like a sponge,
making them me. i picked up
others' interests like they were
all i had.

i didn't know who i was. still, i hardly do.
but that's enough for me to pinpoint what i lack.

i am the oldest child. while i was loud, my siblings were louder.
they got the praise.
i'm the honors student. while i did good, my siblings did better.
they got the kudos.

i had friends. while i wanted to go to parties, my siblings could.
they got to go.
i had wants. while i wanted to be seen, my siblings were.
they were mini-mes.

i told my father all this. everything. how i felt seconded, thirded, fourthed to
my sisters and my brother, and i remember his face, then.
Sep 03

Keepsake

what is there to say? so very little
not already covered by another pen
by other words, more or less
sophisticated than mine.

i do not pretend that i am good,
nor that i am bad.
i'm just a writer. i write things.
and that's fine.

poetry. fic. original stories.
i'm a writer, and that's not something i can lose.
as the world shifts, changes,
as people whirl away and come back

it's always there, my knowledge of these keys
these letters, either through pen or pencil or a keyboard
it is not something that can be taken away.
and i am glad for it.
 
Sep 02

uzumaki

i blend in.

i'm just another student. one with classes, with food, with a laptop, with things to do.
with friends.
we move in a bubble, all of us, together.

or perhaps we're separated,
walking alone, but that's fine.
there's always people around.

i blend in.

i'm just another blond, blue-eyed freshman
perhaps the only thing that sets me apart is honors
or maybe it's not at all.

i make my way to my one in person class three times a week
and the rest, the rest
they're online. i turn on my laptop and there i go.

i blend in.

i am not the only one somewhere new. doing something new,
in circumstances long-predicted and easily avoidable.
and perhaps that's okay.

i've lost most interest in my usual hobbies;
watching youtube feels like i'm lazy,
writing feels like a waste of time.

maybe i don't blend in.
Aug 31

Refraction of Terror

i have been here for a little over two weeks.
i have slept in this bed, in these sheets
i have walked among people i do not know
i have eaten in places i still find unfamiliar

it's disjointed.

when i come back from a weekend at home -
it hits me as i leave the car. the tears.
the fact i am no longer just at "home".
that i have somewhere else to go, now, too.

it's sad. it's terrifying. it's strange.
i want to be home, so so badly.
i want to wake up late, go downstairs, get coffee
and then start my day.

now, though, i get up in an uncomfortable bed
and hope my roommate is awake
make that coffee in a keurig that isn't mine
get onto my computer for some early-morning calculus.

there's no breezy field just beside me, no
no dogs barking and competing for my affection, no
no cat waiting outside my door to scream at my face, no
Aug 15

How-to on Being a Human

i want to say it's not that hard. but it is, truly.

you forget to breathe for a moment and then you have to do it manually. it takes over whatever you might be doing. just breathing. in, out, in out, but it's all you can focus on until your body takes it over again.

keeping balance when you wear different shoes. breaking in different shoes, dealing with the discomfort and possible pain. monitoring how you eat so you don't bite your tongue or your cheek or your teeth clash together in that ugly sensation that sends shivers up spines. so perhaps there's near too-much to say on how to be a human.

to not overextend, whether it be your limbs or your kindness. to watch what you say in order to not damage other people. to find, try, and wear clothes, pin up your hair - though these are optional, not wearing clothes may get you some weird looks.

Aug 15

A Step Forward into Terror

yknow, i thought it might be different.
like i thought everything might be.

i don't know what i thought it would be like. soft smiles, maybe,
"congratulations!" in clapped circles, eyes
creasing as they laugh and grin all for me.

perhaps it was like that, privately. when they wrote me
those cards, sent through the mail or dropped off at my house
or picked up at safe parties.

but now, the morning before, there's nothing.

it's like every other day. quiet. sleepy.
i went to bed late and there's a coffee headache but that's all that's different.
i'm going into something terrifying and yet i can't feel a thing.

tomorrow, i will be somewhere new. an hour away from
my family, more so for my friends, more for my girlfriend.
i'll be living with strangers - that seem nice over text! - but strangers nonetheless.

going into classes, safely, hands wet from sanitizer
Mar 25

those who protect

they're there. i see them.
late at night, early in morning
the same time nevertheless

looming shadows, softly ghosting
over my bare feet, chilling
goosebumps rising on my skin
where they touch and whisper

i make the trek from one room to the next
holding my blankets close, but it's not enough
they speak in my ear, soft kisses
leaving my mind buzzing

"it's okay."
"you're gonna be alright."
"a few more steps and you'll be safe."


they lounge on the stairs as i pass,
heads tilted back and eyes closed
but still somehow on me,
walking through me as i go

they're not unkind, no
shifting my blankets a little higher on my shoulders
patting my head
fighting away my demons for me.

Pages