I do not remember the beginning,

the way things began

I have always been thirteen

running away from home

to drink with boys

who call me beautiful for the first time

.

far from home he took me in

he took me, in a room that I

had never seen before

you're beautiful, he says

as his hands bruise me. beautiful.

and if God had been there,

he would have parted the clouds

and struck him down –

–but as it happens

I just lay in the dark and prayed to nothing

.

and yet I still can't sleep

for the streetlamp reflections

of the light that radiates from my mouth

and the empty bottles and bodies beside me even now

the light that seeps from my own body and bones

.

why does my name taste like bile to us both?

when will I be able to say that I was right,

you were wrong, and I cannot be cured –

–but I can win by dying,

leaving the white-powdered residue

of angst and acute fears behind

when I am gone and breathing softly at last

.

in every nightclub bathroom

I lay my head on the tile floor

and wait for the moment when I will sleep

cold and wet and waiting for the next ending

so that I might be allowed to begin again

unwanted

untouched

unknown

.

I have grown so tired of endless preludes

I am surrounded by virgins and their hands

which come to touch that which I will not share.

there is an entire life of which you can know nothing

because I have forgotten –

–because I refuse to know

.

they lean towards me – I can see their mouths –

and they say, where did it all come from, and why?

I look into polished glass and I say,

where did it come from? and why?

why don't you tell me? tell me why.

.

I remember the sacrificial circle of seventh grade

sitting with girls who ate their cupcakes inside out,

or crumb by crumb, girls who cried at the sight of chocolate milk.

do they lie on bathroom floors now

and wish for some new way to hurt

now that the birth control pills

pause fingers in throats?

.

I travel over water, because I do not remember the ending

I do not remember the way things will end

.

and I am lost in the dry heat, in the damp cold;

that apocalyptic first snowfall

when we first told each other we were in love

I am lost with people, too familiar

who call me by someone else's name

and remember a voice which isn't mine

.

and I cannot find a home

in this house – your house –

surrounded by other houses

and other people

and trees that lose their leaves

and bend with winter snows

.

I lay captivated by smoke and mirrors

reflecting all: meaning nothing

I know the pattern of the mattress

on my spine, the way your blankets smell

but the taste in my mouth

is not yours

but hers

and his

.

light oscillates from

my closed eyes

my open mouth

as if in ecstasy

or orgasm

.

but really—

—really, baby,

I'm screaming. really.