Remember that time you gave me a black heart instead of black eyes
Warped words instead of scraped knees
Yet it still hurt, just the same?
Remember that time you used your silence
to bruise my broken soul,
which could’ve just as easily been broken bones
Because sometimes contempt hurts even more deeply
than sticks and stones?
Remember that time
I slowly became accustomed to your cruelty and the raging storms
The silent glare followed by the teasing eyes
The sweet nothings and the callous words
Bruising the soul and battering the mind—
Carefully evaluating how far I could go?
Remember that time when I
Recoiled in the
The hard grip of your hands
delicately tying my stomach into knots
Like a tailor making me a dress that would beautifully hug my thighs
And squeeze my throat at the same time?
I crawled into the chambers of my own heart and made a cage
Fenced myself in
Scribbled a message on the edges of the walls
Stop here and never again.
Only to sleep beneath the clouds at night
Wake up to the thunder and taste the rain
On your lips.
Remember that time when
I sold my heartbeats for a lived in cage
A secondhand soul and a man I had never met
I met his doppelganger
shook his hand and met his lips
Merged his name with mine until I met the second man
Who I pretended did not exist.
He stole my kisses and my laughter, became a thief for my pride.
Year upon year went by,
Where one man would appear and the other disappeared,
One with a smile and the other with a glint in his eye.
My heart hung heavy and my mind deep-dived, headfirst
Cutting the cord between the two, pretending I never knew.
I reasoned that the second man was nothing like the first,
though they looked the same—
swallowed my lies in tiny cups until they both
Annabel Lee in her tomb
by the sounding sea.
Leaving was not easy but it was also too easy
Remember that time when I left you because I had nothing more left to lose?
Remember when I finally became the victor, after being the victim?
Remember when I cultivated the dreams you tried to eradicate, pull out by the root?
Remember that time when you were finally met by my silence
rather than my compliance—
when my voice became so strong you could no longer break me—
instead, I used all the pain you gave me—
Shahida Arabi is a poet and the author of the book She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong.
She Who Destroys the Light is available for preorder here.