I Was Told

October 7, 2015
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I have begun to start all my sentences,
“they told me,”
because I’m always being told things,
but even moreso now.

“Eat everything on your plate.”
“Say please and thank you.”
“You’re such a pretty little girl.”

I begin,
“they told me,”
with indignation

My favorite number
used to be 13.
I think that’s when it started.

“Don’t talk back.”
“He’s bad news.”
“I’m very disappointed.”

I remember once
when my favorite number was 13,
and my favorite color was black,
there was a boy that told me things.

“You don’t have a choice.”
“Don’t tell anyone.”
“I love you.”

that’s when indignation began.
Because of what he told me.

I used to be a morning person.
Back then, I met a teacher who told me things.

“You’re better.”
“You’re so smart.”
“You have a future.”

Back then, I met a boy.
At first,
he didn’t tell me anything.
He found me crying on the church floor
and he held me.

“It’s going to be okay.”
“You’re beautiful.”
“I love you.”

Back then,
when I was a morning person,
my dad told me something.

“I won’t walk you down the aisle.”

I hear he got the news
from two packs a day
and an oncologist.

I begin,
“they told me,”
with indignation,
because they told me
so many different things.

“It’s okay to cry.”
“You don’t have to be your best.”
“I’m always here.”

The sporadic voices intrude
as I try to walk through the door
with a shred of normalcy.

“You should talk to someone.”
“It’s okay to be afraid.”

Every morning,
I wake up to the sounds of chemo.
Most people don’t know
chemo makes a sound.
It sounds like retching in the kitchen sink.

Back then,
when I was still a morning person,
God told me something very strange.

“I’m preparing you.”

I open my coffee-stained Bible.
I was told,

“Because of God’s great love,
we are not consumed.”

Maybe for a little while
I’ll take a rest from indignation.

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