Awkward cold stretching

to the very corners of the

journal I kept that summer,

yellowed pages left

half-blank, a glass half empty.

The first one to tell me I was

beautiful, the thing

I could never, will never believe

as a quality attributed to me.

Because while I pretend

that I do not remember

foolish teases and taunts

on the bus the sun hot

on my face, bursting through the dusty windows,

and searing vinyl burning my legs,

I do.

Something inside

my 11-year-old heart

took those words and etched

them into recall.

Instantly I branded myself

as

ugly.

Equating this with unwanted

immediately, like connecting two dots

or freckles on my deathly pale arms.

The power of the spoken knives

others I did not care about

threw at me

left a few bloody marks.

Minor wounds, of course.

White ridged hardly noticeable scars now.

Fading out each day, just

like the misshapen letters in that

diary I hoped my mother

would never find.