Awkward child, with knobby knees, you were awkward child, self.
Too much space, they said you took up too much space. Not only with their mouths, they said, they told you with their eyes, they said, they told you with their shaken heads. Said you spoke too loud. Didn’t teach you to speak soft. Their neglect a bad scent strangers smelled on you. You were a bad sight, dragging tattered shame around like it was your blankey.
You didn’t know, you say, you didn’t know what they saw wrong with you. You couldn’t see the gap between you, couldn’t smell the smell. Your normal was the realization that you must have been—musthavebeen—less, born defective though you couldn’t find the parts that didn’t fit together right.
Books taught you how to think. No one taught you how to be human. Small child, naive child, you didn’t see the missing skill. Children like cannibals, like wolves, caught your weakness, came for blood. You were never children, only child, stuck inside skull walls, grasping shredded comfort in brain space.
It’s safe now.
Come out now.
You’re almost grown, you’re nearly there. Find refuge, find sunlight, find trees and open spaces. Repaint your head cave and remove the trash. Clean out your closet and make skeleton art. Bruised child, find solace.
Time ticks, counting years, but it gets better, someday, one day.
You’ve been buried, body in grave. Be exhumed.
I tell you, rib cage to rib cage, it can be done.