Winkye Cheong CC
How Close I Came to Breaking
As a child, my Saturday evenings
were spent trying not to break
the ice. They say we are all born
from stars but I imagine the skies
must have been empty the night
I was created. The paper cut on my palm
line still itches from failing to fall
in love without holding my breath;
never shouting of my infiniteness
as the car sped down Route 322. //
Mental illness has been my most
consistent friend and everyone else
is trying to get rid of it. Fires can burn
underwater. My blood is trying
to extinguish me. The Earth pulses
deep within its core. An orchestra’s
crescendo always makes me weep.
Outlining my life has been the roadmap
to my survival. Gushing red rivers
once threatened to replace saltwater seas.
A tissue can only hold so many marbles.
I wonder how many people know
just how close I came to the breaking point?
I Look at the Scabs On My Arms
and scratch them into scars. I’m itching
for some semblance of sanity while my mind swirls
and they stain the surface of my skin with each frenzied opening.
It has been this way since the tides first turned, since the world
closed down and old wounds suddenly took on new meanings--
try to pick at something—flowers, apples, words—anything
more beautiful than what can only ever be seen underneath
this bleeding shell. Salty beach air tries to sting me into something
more than endless hauntedness again—an unnumbing. I sink
my nails into my own tidepools of iron. It foams along the cracking
shoreline until the crumpled mass spills into a metallic-
scented slick like oil in the middle of an ocean. Their surface layers
are peeled away one tiny circle at a time. Can I can stop
reopening the hole-punched trauma, until the skin grows back sandy
white in the spaces my body has forgotten its own olive complexion?
I look at the scabs on my arms
and apologize for turning them into scars.
Erica Abbott (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based poet and writer. She has been writing for over 15 years and her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Toho, perhappened, Bandit Fiction, and other journals. She is the author of Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship (Toho 2020), her debut poetry chapbook. She volunteers for Button Poetry and Mad Poets Society. Follow her on Instagram @poetry_erica and on Twitter @erica_abbott.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.