// Your father might leave. Your mother might teach you the wrong
words for this. Everyone will be scared of the ending world
but I will build a new one & promise not to turn to ash,
to call love everything except
For awhile, all our mothers must burn.
/// You might kiss girls. You might not be
a girl at all. Your body might be at war
with your heart. You’ll take up arms, but find
a peace treaty. I’ll bandage the wounds
& feed the troops & swear not to make jokes
about my own body being Switzerland.
I won’t make any jokes at all. I’ll practice
//// If you meet the ugly of the world,
kill it with kindness & refuse to turn
your saliva to vinegar.
///// Our family has strong arms, but if the bridge collapses
& the current sweeps you under,
remember that I can dive.
Our lungs are even stronger.
////// There are monsters under the bed, but
they are only our own. We make them when we
refuse to love ourselves.
/////// This life is about learning
everything we can learn & trying
our best not to hurt anyone. Do not
sharpen your knowledge into a knife.
You’ll only cut yourself.
I’ll stop the bleeding if you do.
//////// You’ll see my own scars & this is where
all mothers must burn, that everything
in life sets itself on fire.
The forest will fall to the ground
but grow again—more wild.
The burns are saying that everything here
survived to show you how.