Beast in Kind

i always hear about this place
where self love is a gift
you can actually give yourself;
something with dimension
and weight,
something you can keep
and return to.

nobody ever told me
that it’s ok if i don’t know how
to love myself.

in the dark i draw a lonely circle
with gun powder
the size of a living room
and braid lighter fluid
through its tresses.
i strike a match
that sounds like a bell,
the ring a start
of an inquiry
meant to flower in fire.

i meet my memories
not in battle
but face to face
as fellow beasts
who can’t escape this place.
we will confront each other
or we will destroy each other
or we will perish in the fire.

i don’t remember learning
to hate myself.
i remember
a mother stressed and screaming,
retreating.
a mother changing medication,
hearing voices,
a million doors closing
at different pitches
depending on her memory or mood.
i remember fathers who didn’t want children,
fathers who wanted girls to be punching bags
or just tiny servants with tiny hands
holding up their heterosexuality.

i remember the affirmations, too,
the oscillating praise that detected perfection
but wouldn’t let me own
what it meant to be human.
buried amidst my god given insolence,
sometimes i wonder if i
was not a child but instead
malevolence
milking blood for worth.

i am trying to make new kinds of memories now,
to leave doors open
to loosen the flame lasso
constricting my wrists
and give my beasts room to roam.
maybe we will confront each other
or maybe we will destroy each other
or maybe they will kick out the windows,
let the flames breathe.

i don’t care about crushes
or moments of attraction that move through me.
lovers will never love me more
than i hate myself,
and i am trying to obscure the shame with smoke
and acceptance.

nobody ever told me it was ok
if i don’t know how to love myself,
so i am learning to collaborate
with fire.

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