A soft woman
is simply a wolf
caught in meditation.
You have my permission not to love me;
I am a cathedral of deadbolts
and I’d rather burn myself down
than change the locks.
Revision can grind a good impulse to dust.
When I am 25 and my then-husband has moved out for good and I have sent dozens of desperate, from-the-knees texts to the boy I cheated with and receive no answer and I have gotten pregnant by another boy who hightailed it to California the moment it was taken care of, I jump off my apartment balcony.
I lean over the railing with a wine glass in my hand and then just keep going, when my body starts to panic, then flail. I head over heels it and think only 2 things, in mid-air: I should have at least climbed to the roof (2 stories is certainly not going to cut it) and maybe, I’ll break a few ribs, I guess. But what happens is I land on my ass in some bushes and burst into laughter, the stem of the now broken wine glass still in my fist. Then the lights snap on in the apartment below mine and my neighbor is peering at me through his sliding glass door and I wave, frantically, smiling.
When I am 23 and things are just starting to unravel, I drive my little blue Honda to Gilberts, Illinois in the middle of the night, swerve off the road and into a cornfield, roll down all 4 windows and scream, “WHAT A MESS!” while sun-baked stalks snap and pop under my tires, against my outstretched hand.
In the morning, I drive by and everything is flat, defeated, dead.
When I am 27 a policeman shows up at the door and hands me an impossible amount of paper, somehow held together with a single, crooked staple. The credit card companies finally found me and they are taking me to court for every last red cent. I collapse right there, the staple giving out and paper spewing everywhere - an anxiety nest, with me in the middle, sure I am dead. I come to several hours later, the sun having set.
My roommate, unable to open the door after pounding, kicking, hollering my name and then, finally, climbing over our porch and punching in the screen door, finds me, growling at the floorboards, my bare arms a map of hot pink roads dug up by my fingernails, my teeth.
When I am 28 my mom calls my cellphone, then my sister, then my dad. “Jenae is in the hospital. She tried to kill herself.” I get in my boyfriend’s truck and drive the 50 miles to my hometown hospital. I don’t think I bother to breathe until I find her behind a curtain in the ER, half her basketball team around her with their heads bowed, so I can say, “Asshole! You asshole!” And all those ponytails see themselves out as me and her just cry and I shove her wet face into my chest.
"You are not alone in this," I whisper in her hair, between sobs. "You are never ever alone, OK?"
I am the sea and nobody owns me.
You can wipe your feet on me, twist my motives around all you like, you can dump millstones on my head and drown me in the river, but you can’t get me out of the story. I’m the plot, babe, and don’t ever forget it.