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I learned to love words because I couldn’t love myself.
I could not love who I was when I was not talented.
I could not love who I was when I was not the poet friend,
the writer friend,
the creator of universes,
the sculptor of worlds,
the object of their admiration,
I could not love who I was on the days when she bled the poetry out of me.
On the days when God told me “no” for the first and last time.
On the days when suicide seemed as viable an option as sleeping until noon.
On the days when her memory clung to my bones more closely than my shadow.
On the days when I sat for hours in front of the computer screen, knuckles grinding against my temples, without writing a single word.
On the days when the only thing between me and giving up was gritted teeth and a handful of painkillers.
On those days, I could not love myself.
So I learned to love the words instead. I learned to love how I looked clothed in unrealistic dreams and I learned to love the embrace of stanzas when even breathing felt like inhaling broken glass.
I learned to love who I was when I was turning my ugly into pretty things.
But I didn’t learn to love myself.
And now I wonder who taught me that?
Who taught me that the knife in my stomach was to be hidden at all costs?
Who taught me how to cover the bloodstains in four layers of syllables plus a shirt made of chainmail and poems,
How to hunch my shoulders so that the handle would not stick out so garishly,
How to twist my grimace into a story because pain is impolite in civilized society.
I want to know who taught me that so I can find them,
And punch them in the mouth.