If we bruised where we ached we’d all see a different kind of beautiful. With corrupted skin of a mapped out past maybe we’d have a better understanding. We’ll have the marks of blue solar systems across our heavy heads, circles over each knot in our spines, bruises in the shape of cuts from being stabbed in the back. There’d be deep navy in the outstretched tips of our fingers from yearning, from reaching, from holding on and letting go, colour blooming on the soles of our feet from walking and walking and running with inconsistent monotony. We’ll have battle marks across our chests, dark purples splattered on the left above our racing hearts. Necks hold dark fingerprints from the ache of being choked by soft things that shouldn’t hurt but do.
If we bruised where we ached, we wouldn’t be able to hide and maybe then, and only then, we’ll realise the lie in “I’m fine.”
Being invisible becomes force of habit,
because I learned young that I needed
to apologize for the amount of room
I took up.
After all, girls are expected to be small
and when you’re not—
At first, they call it manners.
Elbows in. Legs crossed.
But when you’re twelve years old,
crushing yourself into the furthest corner
of the bus seat, terrified of taking up
more room than everyone else,
then—then you know something’s gone wrong.
See, when you’re a big girl,
the amount of space you take up
and the amount of space you’re allowed
are inversely proportionate.
Which means, the bigger you are
the smaller they expect you to stay.
Which means, the more space you need
the less you are given.
I started making myself smaller
years before I ever lost weight.
And so begins a disappearing act
decades in the making,
passed down from mother to daughter
to daughter, to daughter.
Believe me, we’ve perfected it.
We’ll start with a beautiful best friend.
We’ll call her the magician’s assistant.
It’s her job to make sure that no one
ever looks too close.
With someone like her out in front of you,
you already know that they won’t.
But you come armed with a knack for laughs.
Because magic, after all, is half performance act
and you need, you need, you need
the crowd to laugh.
You think this is the only way
they’re ever going to want to like you.
Us big girls, we think our amount of friends
is directly related to the number of jokes
we can make at our own expense.
We think we have to beat them to it.
If I say it first, then nobody else did.
You make yourself invisible by simple,
They made fun of me for the space I took up,
but I guarantee, no one knows
how to blend into the wall
at the back of a room
faster than me.
I can be two inches tall in the time
it takes to close your eyes.
I can back gracefully out
of a conversation you didn’t even know
I was participating in.
I know how to be small better
than the tiniest girl you’ve ever seen.
I had to be.
But I’m not small anymore,
no matter what size you see me
Because I decided to take up space.
There is no one who gives me room,
I demand it.
I deserve to.
I’ve got all this reach, and every inch
belongs to me.
Because see, there’s one more step
in the magic act.
You can be invisible long as you want,
but you can’t stay that way.
The audience only claps
after you bring yourself back.
The same night you go missing,
a voice spills into my dream
like an accidental leak.
Makes its way between the broken faucet
and the hole in the ceiling.
‘This is the type of thing
you mourn forever,’
it tells me.
And I wake up homesick
in my own bed.
Later that week,
a man stops me and asks
if i'm Palestinian.
Says he would have recognized
the longing anywhere.
Tells me about the town he grew up in.
How even in the pictures,
More quiet massacres and more
people feeling the earth fall away from them
while no one’s looking.
Miles away, I write a poem about being on fire.
The smoke stays with me for years,
and no matter how much rain I try to write
into the story,
I’m still remembered for my