To Write Love On Her Arms
For the beautiful girls who like to wrap themselves in red ribbons and die, this is for you.
For the girls who have built their hands into hacksaws, their arms into ticker tape without a parade, their marching orders: “get over it,”
thrown on the side of the road. Their stress is on their forearms.
Their suicide notes: “look at me!” not a call for help or attention, just a plea, “please, look at me, I am sad.”
2006: An organization is founded and named “To Write Love On Her Arms,” its stated purpose: to help young people struggling with depression, self-injury, and suicide.
2012: A thousand beautiful girls are still carving up their arms, but now, some of them are actually cutting the word “love” out there in iron letters.
It is not funny or ironic, it is being thrown a rope and then using it to hang yourself.
Tired wallflowers, wearing sin on their sleeves,
red paint on their elbows
and shaking heads like a busted globe round.
Young gypsies with a death wish, like coffin makers with a hammer they sink into themselves, howling as they dive down, there is nothing holy about it.
It is not a sacrament.
If you want prayers on your skin, I will tattoo you lines of song down your spine and drown them something warm again,
but then again, maybe I just don’t understand.
After all, I’ve never tried cutting myself.
My little sister once told me, “it’s a beautiful thing Shaan, you just don’t get it.”
You’re right, I don’t. Why don’t you try carving an explanation onto your forehead?
She said, “Shaan, you cut just as much as I do, you just call it poetry when you’re done!”
You’re right, I do.
I bleed real pretty onto a page and call it “confession,”
nail my hands to a pen and call it “communion,”
I am solid on the outside and inky on the inside,
but you, my dear, you are still beautiful all over, so don’t treat your wrists like I treat my notebook.
You will not find love written on your arms.
It is written on your feet.
In your hair,
on your cheeks, your voice,
in the small of your back, the dip of your waist,
it is written in your breath. Sing it out, hon. Real loud.
“I am beautiful,” sing it out,
“I am a siren with a ballad in my throat,”
A sonata of sin humming love letters happy again, vox mei, vox dei, my voice is the voice of God; let it be heard out of your body!
Trade in your razorblades for a pen and a page; it will last longer.
Trade your arms for a mic and a stage; it will be louder!
Trade that time bomb
in your chest
for a heartbeat,
your sin for baptism.
And trade in your bandages, your gauze, your long sleeves;
trade them in for your brother’s arms.
Have him hold you close.
Have him tell you, “darling, you are beautiful,”
“sister, you are lovely,”
“child, you are the better half of an angel,”
“honey, it will all be okay.” Not because it will be easy, but because we will make it be okay.
So for the beautiful girls with highways growing out their shoulderblades, lend me what’s left of your hands.
a happy ending
ten-care pileup on your wrist.