ON BEING A SHITTY SAD SELFISH TWENTY-YEAR-OLD by alea shurmantine
Your roommate comes home to find you
in the kitchen, in old sweatpants and a lace bra,
heating soup on the stove. You wonder
what she thinks of your stomach, its pillowy folds, if
it isn’t a little obscene, how it grows softer every day
while you stand there, tearing chunks off of a baguette,
barely chewing, constantly swallowing.
Your friend invites you over for a movie. Cancel because your
feet hurt. Cancel because your fat stomach hurts. Cancel
because he thinks you’re beautiful and you know you aren’t.
Consider writing the boy you love another letter
to tell him you are sad that he ignored your first letter.
Wonder when you stopped worrying about being
a “crazy girl.” Acknowledge that becoming one
feels natural, like tugging at ivy until it’s uprooted, like
holding the vine and watching soil fall from the roots,
back to more soil, gently.
Fear every man who looks at you.
Hate every man who doesn’t look at you.
The train whistle you hear every night
sounds like the cawing of an angry crow.
This is not the mournful song everyone
writes about, not the lone bassoon stretching
its neck into the night—this is something harsh,
dogged: blaring sandpaper, a smoke alarm.
Think about getting hit by a car almost every day.
Resent that you can’t think of anything more creative
or less passive.
But that boy. You have spent most of a year unraveling
your skin for him, draping strands of it places
you thought he’d notice, your teeth always chattering
like crude drums calling him to battle across the room,
across three states, across your bed. The woman he loves
is a magnet. You don’t know what you are, but you suspect
it is something less permanent, something
more likely to dissolve in water.
Eat the whole baguette. Lay in bed
sweating. Don’t call anyone back. There’s
that train whistle again: furious, obscene.