Rivers in chest
welling up tight.
Body shrinking in size.
When I came back: from home.
It’s my graduation pictures —
the ones where I’m smiling proud
wearing a scarf loud
the ones where I’m in a gown —
frames face down.
When I came back from home.
Your story changing
as to why the pictures were that way.
It’s the candles you had lit
by the other downstairs bed
and I guess forgot to put back.
You lit candles for yourself?
How silly of me to believe.
It’s the hair pins I found around.
It’s how you neglected to tell me
someone else was in the car.
The day you drove without my consent
my grown up purchase into shattered glass.
Like visiting a site
that’s been yellow taped off
I snuck into the accident
and found all types of bones. More trails of betrayal.
A flower headband,
a perfume bottle.
1. And this is the same car
— my big grown-up purchase —
whose mirror my body
broke with your force.
My back landing on the street view mirror.
My back opened to accept the blame
and I carried all the weight —
My spine leading a heavy train.
2. It’s my lip you split open
out of desperation.
I wanted to leave you —
you thought you needed me.
How would a kiss like this convince?
I was teary eyed and blind.
Bitter pennies and chalk in my mouth —
this is what love with you tastes like.
And when I lied about 1&2&3,
three is not written here
because it was always...
I broke my own moral code to protect you.
Now the rivers in my chest run
and continue to palpitate.
I lied but I was always hoping
someone would snoop.
If someone had pried about my blueberry limbs
maybe I’d left you sooner.
It's the police that never came.
The way you shift blame
with the claims that I'm insane.
The refuge in drink,
and the lack of sleep
from nights spent crying or
lending my body to make you happy.
It’s the late night text messages she sent:
“your trouble” and; “turns out my place was empty”.
I sent one back on your phone, on my behalf:
“Please stop texting at 5 in the morning. This is Veronica.”
It was not us we were split in half.
And it was only up until last week you let that lie go —
the one of you were never a cheat.
Cowardly hugging your knees on the cement street.
It was just last week…
And I am strong now because I have to be.
Now a small child lives inside of me,
it’s burrowed its way
near the rivers in my chest.
Hiding in straw like the Midwest.
Hiding from snakes in twilight.
This child’s hair is red and orange,
Scared of the physical strength
men tend to exert
and finding it disgusting —
afraid of bullies.
Scared that someone else will lie,
lie, and lie like him.
Scared that someone else will share
an intimate moment with someone else,
repeat with me,
and then repeat, repeat, repeat —
Scared of manipulative words I may believe.
Really this child is kind and gentle —
in need of affection, adoration, truth.
Really this child is alchemy —
it will mature. What it will become
is still in the works.
And that being strong
for other people is bullshit.
This is where I am at.
and if you cannot accept it
then it will just have to be.
If you find yourself here it’s OK —
let’s DO something about it.
Accept that it has happened.
Let’s not stay silent.
Don’t keep it inside —
that child needs healing.
Try all the outlets to see what fits.
Writing, talking, drawing, painting, sculpting, praying...
Watch out for trains, don’t get hit.
Become a nurturer — be kind to the child.
Show affection, adore yourself, and speak the truth.
Speak the truth.
— Veronica Giraldo
A student of the arts, Veronica Giraldo has also taught art in New Orleans schools. We are grateful that when she puts down her brush, she picks up a pen and creates poetry that is both raw and emotional but more importantly comes from within the soul of a true artist.