Lydia

May 11, 2014
{i wrote this for the fifth-grader who told me once my hair looked like ramen noodles.}

1.
i felt bad that i had forgotten for awhile how much she believes that the universe needs to be
smaller
in order for the stars to be closer, even though
sometimes
she forgets how big she is.

2.
Lydia is like holding a butterfly, and she moves like a wish does
through a dandelion’s fur
when i first met her i felt inadequately colored
and when i first told her my name was Cady, she yelled at me for spelling it wrong.

Lydia used to be one of those gangly, weightless nine-year-olds, always spindly and stringy
against the onslaught of leg forests
she did everything with more purpose, like her bones served a greater good
than just to hold up her origami limbs that threw sharp shadows like a spiral staircase.

she used to get blisters and bruises that bloomed from jumping off the playground slide
because she was the only one in third grade
who still believed in flying
and it's beautiful,
even though it’s not supposed to be.

3.
during truth-or-dare, the worst lie she said she ever told was "i'm okay"
knowing Lydia, she still feels bad about it.

4.
when we learned about the rubble of hiroshima, she was the only one who asked
if the bombers were okay
she taught me how to grieve for those i didn’t know.

5.
when she was old enough to run out of room on the doorframe for tick-marks,
she shaved half her head just to have an excuse to stomp upstairs in her new boots
and slam her bedroom door.

she became an atheist and christian which she said could be possible
and was breaking up with monday while having an affair with friday
she became someone whose favorite colors are jelly-jarred fireflies
and any hue that doesn't have a crayon named after it.

Lydia's jealous of airplanes and birds,
mad at the world for not being dyed pink and orange
like her hair, mad at her parents for making her skin too white,
white enough so you can see every heartbreak that keeps her together
and it's
ugly,
even though it's not supposed to be.

6.
Lydia knows that broken things are beautiful, but knows that she can’t fix herself
she forgets how to feel beautiful even though she is, sort of like the quiet spaces between one
and three am
when the world is full of the static of insomnia.

when i told her it got better, she looked at me with impossible eyes that are too big for her face,
trying to condense a thousand words
“but then what?”

she cried
when i took her hands, folded together like a pair of broken wings, and promised her
that she would fly one day
i've told her that for eleven years, but she's woken up just nine mornings believing it.

7.
i'm still the only one who knows where she goes when she closes those brown eyes
on one of those nine days
and her body just sort of breathes
and you can see all those lovely
lonely bones
finally settle.

8.
Lydia is everything at once
she looks like a diffracted prism, looks like art,
she's the only person i know whose favorite colors
are the ones no one likes enough to mass-produce.
she's the girl who uses my hand-me-downs until she can find a better pair of wings.





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