My brother killed himself
on the twenty-eighth Thursday of last year
and I missed four days of work
and my mom wanted to know ‘Why’.
he was always a fan of beauty
but what he did
was not beautiful at all.
And last week I got the news
that one of my good friends from high school
except this time
she’d gone too far
and now she was gone.
And I had a hard time falling asleep at night
and her mother
hugged me tight
and thanked me for coming to the service
but I did not
want to be there at all.
This is not
The girl down the street
would’ve turned 21 last year
and I can scarcely imagine
the wild times she would’ve
But she is buried six feet deep
after falling nearly 300
and she did not leave a note.
This is not
My freshman year of college
and my roommate was beautiful
and how I wanted to be just like her.
But she wore herself down
till she was
and if you blinked
you had to go and find her all over again.
So now her parents are no longer supporting her college tuition
but are paying her hospital bills
watching their daughter crumble.
This is not
So y’all can take your narcissistic
of self harm and eating disorders and committing suicide
and shove them as far up your ass
as you possibly can.
Starvation is not beautiful.
Killing yourself is not beautiful.
is not beautiful.
This note I am writing
is not beautiful.
you are beautiful
and it’s about damn time you start believing it.
she fell headfirst into the dirt and came up with a mouthful of gravel and lines of blood chasing each other down her legs
when she told her teacher what happened, she laughed and said ‘boys will be boys honey don’t let it bother you
he probably just thinks you’re cute’
but the thing is,
when you tell a little girl who has rocks in her teeth and scabs on her knees that hurt and attention are the same
you teach her that boys show their affection through aggression
and she grows into a young woman who constantly mistakes the two
because no one ever taught her the difference
‘boys will be boys’
‘that’s how he shows his love’
and bruises start to feel like the imprint of lips
she goes to school with a busted mouth in high school and says she was hit with a basketball instead of his fist
the one adult she tells scolds her
‘you know he loses his temper easily
why the hell did you have to provoke him?’
so she shrinks
folds into herself, flinches every time a man raises his voice
by the time she’s 16 she’s learned her job well
be quiet, be soft, be easy
don’t give him a reason
but for all her efforts, he still finds one
‘boys will be boys’ rings in her head
‘boys will be boys
he doesn’t mean it
he can’t help it’
she’s 7 years old on the playground again
with a mouth full of rocks and blood that tastes like copper love
because boys will be boys baby don’t you know
that’s just how he shows he cares
she’s 18 now and they’re drunk
in the split second it takes for her words to enter his ears they’re ruined
like a glass heirloom being dropped between the hands of generations
she meant them to open his arms but they curl his fists and suddenly his hands are on her and her head hits the wall and all of the goddamn words in the world couldn’t save them in this moment
she touches the bruise the next day
boys will be boys
aggression, affection, violence, love
how does she separate them when she learned so early that they’re inextricably bound, tangled in a constant tug-of-war
she draws tally marks on her walls ratios of kisses to bruises
one entire side of her bedroom turns purple, one entire side of her body
boys will be boys will be boys will be boys
when she’s 20, a boy touches her hips and she jumps
he asks her who the hell taught her to be scared like that and she wants to laugh
doesn’t he know that boys will be boys?
it took her 13 years to unlearn that lesson from the playground
so I guess what I’m trying to say is
i will talk until my voice is hoarse so that my little sister understands that aggression and affection are two entirely separate things
baby they exist in difference universes
my niece can’t even speak yet but I think I’ll start with her now
don’t ever accept the excuse that boys will be boys
don’t ever let him put his hands on you like that
if you see hate blazing in his eyes don’t you ever confuse it with love
baby love won’t hurt when it comes
you won’t have to hide it under long sleeves during the summer
the only reason he should ever reach out his hand
is to hold yours"