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Untitled Coming-Of-Age Poem

It hurts to shed your skin.

To outgrow people like old overcoats,

To lose the sickly layer of cells that kept you so warm,

But drew the life out of you from the inside

And took everything you had

The moment you closed your eyes and felt safe.

And maybe parasites are better

Than a crushing sense of aimlessness,

But you don’t even have that choice.


Because there are lessons no one really teaches us, like

You can’t undo knowing someone—

You’ll always have their ghost

To add to your collection of failures—

That people and words and tired mistakes

Can strap themselves to you like shackles;

That the best way to someone’s heart is through their lungs,

Their ribs,

Their veins—precious and blue,

And all the parts of them that don’t wash away;

And that nobody fixes anyone,

You only fix yourself, and then let them in,

And when you finally do, it’s too beautiful to even think about

Without wanting to cry or laugh with relief,

My God, it’s okay, it really is.


And you stop fighting yourself.

You learn to pick your battles;

Neatly and calculated—

With trust,

With grace,

With subtle and stinging knowledge

That once hurt to gain,

But now has a home.