I wonder which things I’ve experienced are all part of being
human, and which are things that shouldn’t have ever happened to me. I wonder
which things I should share and which things I should put in a diary or keep in
memories so abstract they never become thoughts at all.
I wonder how many memories I can hold and whether I’ll burst
and at what point of growing up did so much of thinking become finding places
to store what I can’t speak but which I can’t swallow.
When I was 8 I swallowed a loose tooth in my sleep. A story
I can tell. 13 and using a flat iron on my hair at a slumber party. 17 and
laughing so hard in class I got sent to stand in the hallway.
All hung out on a clothesline where the neighbors can see,
drying in the soft and steady breeze of gentle retellings, of “remember that time?”
When I was 12 I noticed grown men looking at me for the
first time. I was walking home in my school uniform, and I looked young for my
I don’t know where that goes.
I bury it in a pile of dirty laundry, old blouses and a pleated
My room has always been the messiest in the house.
When I was 7 I cried so hard I threw up. I told my parents I
was just sad and didn’t know why.
I put that under the bed with my summer clothes that don’t
I never learned how to sort things out,
I don’t know how to choose what to keep and what to give
The fire when I was 16, and the 9 PM September sky glowing
red, but I couldn’t run the two blocks to see it, to know exactly what it
looked like when my childhood evaporated into the sky like so much smoke.
I don’t think I have room for that.
I don’t know if I can split it up to fit into different
My Dad, still inside.
Sock drawers and makeup bags and backpacks and the back corner
of the bottom shelf of my least-browsed bookcase.
Can someone else make space for it?
Should I tell someone? Could they help me carry it, keep it?
My friends’ childhood bedrooms were always so clean growing up.
Maybe they have room for something of mine.
Can I give it away?
Will they take it?
Where do they put it all?
I think everyone else must’ve learned something I missed.
I’m only 27, and I’m already out of space.
Where do we put it all?
The years pile up.
Where do we put it all.
–a small experimental poem on unpacking and processing trauma & grief