Pinned Butterflies

by | Autumn 2022, Poetry

I am a butterfly pinned by a single sentence
Spoken from the driver’s seat of a stuffy, two-door car idling in the school parking lot after soccer practice sophomore year
Shin pads sticking to my sweaty legs
My practice ended much later than his; he is a senior held up by his little sister
He inclines his head slightly, gathering something awful,
I am rain barrels ready for a storm,
I am always quiet, always waiting,
“You won’t amount to much,” he explains in a few, sharpened words
That fall into me, viscous drops
Plink, plink

I am a small, small person

Years later, at college, he cries sorry into his red wine, the universal
solvent Brotherly charms activated too late,
The lost child in the family
Someone has to be empty, someone has to hold

Certain words sequenced together might change my life
So I speak them out of order
I whisper them into the warm flesh of a neck
I suck them inside my mouth like hard candy
I spit them down filthy sinks
I know that some sentences are tacks and that others are nets,
So I hide them, burrow them away and wait
For some spring,
For another season.

Grow a _________: Just add water!
I follow the directions and stick to the schedule but
All the house plants are dead or dying

A domestic graveyard
Plink, plink
I grow 6X my size promises the small, small person
After some time, we maybe stop believing her
Everyone is so irritatingly awake to what’s real and what’s decoration
I save all the Christmas wrapping paper and binge-feed the fake monstera seltzer water,
Memorize every fortune cookie that I eat