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Who could blame us, friend, almost-sister,
when we woke up on separate islands
where our unique monsters bred,
unrecognizable to each other?
This was not supposed to be part of the story,
crashing and burning yes, but being in our own darkness,
no. I thought growing up was about restraint,
how the hero Odysseus would rather strap himself to his boat
than be ruined by those beautiful women.
In my apartment now, I look over the winter trees
at what I couldn't see then, millions of islands like ours,
that for all our childhood sufferings we were unspecial,
the demons in my jungles, the froth-mouthed chimeras
in yours that made you slice your skin
in neat, parallel lines, you promising you'll stop and
you almost did. I should think that the destruction
wasn't your fault, that a child learns about it
while eating raspberries—
place a soft body against your tongue, bear down
until the sweetness dries up and the seeds turn to dust.
Instead I think we lost our childhoods alone.
What I don't say:
Some days now I stare out over a blank ocean
and see nothing. A dullness clouds me
and pulls. Here the story gets turned around,
you with healed scars and me on a flat shore, numb.
There is no good ending I can write for old stories,
no real beauty told in pain and if the pain looks beautiful
it's because they're faking it.
Odysseus ties himself up then pulls against the restraints,
almost breaking himself, not because he wants the women,
but because he wants something
to strive for. All his friends are dead.
Let's talk about how you saved yourself.
Odysseus loving the Sirens
for the sake of loving something.
The heroes we dream up
with rope marks on their wrists,
eating breakfast now or picking up the mail,
the ones we imagine made it home.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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