The nutritionist said I should eat root vegetables. Said if I could get down thirteen turnips a day I would be grounded, rooted. Said my head would not keep flying away to where the darkness lives.
The psychic told me my heart carries too much weight.
Said for twenty dollars she’d tell me what to do.
I handed her the twenty. She said, “Stop worrying, darling.
You will find a good man soon.”
The first psycho therapist told me to spend
three hours each day sitting in a dark closet
with my eyes closed and ears plugged.
I tried it once but couldn’t stop thinking
about how gay it was to be sitting in the closet.
The yogi told me to stretch everything but the truth.
Said to focus on the out breath. Said everyone finds happiness
when they care more about what they give
than what they get.
The pharmacist said, “Lexapro, Lamicatl, Lithium, Xanax.”
The doctor said an anti-psychotic might help me
forget what the trauma said.
The trauma said, “Don’t write this poem.
Nobody wants to hear you cry
about the grief inside your bones.”
But my bones said, “Tyler Clementi dove
into the Hudson River convinced
he was entirely alone.”
My bones said, “Write the poem.”
The lamplight. Considering the river bed.
To the chandelier of your fate hanging by a thread.
To everyday you could not get out of bed.
To the bulls eye of your wrist
To anyone who has ever wanted to die.
I have been told, sometimes, the most healing thing to do-
Is remind ourselves over and over and over:
“Other people feel this too.”
The tomorrow that is coming, gone
And it has not gotten better
When you are half finished writing that letter
to your mother that says “I swear to God I tried
But when I thought I hit bottom, it started hitting back”
There is no bruise like the bruise of loneliness kicks into the spine
So let me tell you I know there are days
it looks like the whole world is dancing in the streets
when you break down like the doors of the looted buildings
You are not alone
and wondering who will be convicted of the crime
of insisting you keep loading your grief into the chamber of your shame
You are not weak just because your heart feels so heavy
I have never met a heavy heart
that wasn’t a phone booth with a red cape inside
Some people will never understand
the kind of superpower it takes for some people to just walk outside
Some days I know my smile looks like the gutter of a falling house
But my hands are always holding tight to the ripchord of believing
A life can be rich like the soil
Can make food of decay
Can turn wound into highway
Pick me up in a truck with that bumper sticker that says
“It is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.”
I have never trusted anyone
with the pulled back bow of my spine
the way I trusted ones who come undone at the throat
Screaming for their pulses to find the fight to pound
Four nights before Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge
I was sitting in a hotel room in my own town
Calculating exactly what I had to swallow
to keep a bottle of sleeping pills down
What I know about living is the pain is never just ours
Every time I hurt I know the wound is an echo
So I keep a listening to the moment the grief becomes a window
When I can see what I couldn’t see before,
through the glass of my most battered dream
I watched a dandelion lose its mind in the wind
and when it did, it scattered a thousand seeds.
So the next time I tell you how easily I come out of my skin,
don’t try to put me back in,
just say “Here we are together at the window aching for it to all get better
but knowing as bad as it hurts our hearts, made of only just skin,
knowing there is a chance the worst day might still be coming —
let me say right now for the record, I’m still gonna be here
asking this world to dance, even if it keeps stepping on my holy feet
you — you stay here with me, okay?
You stay here with me.
Raising your bright against the bitter dark
Your bright longing
Your brilliant fists of loss”
Friends, if the only thing we have to gain in staying is each other,
my God that’s plenty,
my God that’s enough,
my God that is so so much for the light to give,
each of us at each other’s backs whispering over and over and over
The Nutritionist— Andrea Gibson