There are things I will never tell you. I will never tell you that I have been beaten in the past, and that nearly every word flung at me from my father's maw batters me as if were made of iron. I will never tell you that my first kiss was with a guy seven years older than me, who listened to screaming institutional music and had hair like Antonio Banderas. I will never be able to explain why I sat tearless through the funeral of one of my best friends. Neither will I be able to tell you why, nearly a year later, I broke down because of a simple memory of him in the halls at school.
I will never scream, cry, or fold in front of you.
-- from "A Prenuptial Agreement for Friendship" by Nicole Mangione
It was September, the first time you kissed me.
The first time anyone kissed me, I guess, excluding a few tentative pecks in clandestine games of spin-the-bottle and the lithe blond boy from Texas that past summer, but his caresses were halfhearted, devoid of your intensity. You had dyed your hair maroon, left the bathroom sink rimmed with red like an underslept eye, and as you leaned in and I felt your hot breath on my face I saw the smudges of color across your plain, thin, long-sleeved ex-white T-shirt and I was ashamed of you.
-- from "Spark" by Samuel Lansey
Tell my friends that I'm dead.
the funeral is in two days
in the churchyard down from
the grey stone flat and the barbershop.
Not to worry about arrangements
and to bring flowers.
-- from "Adoncia in Flight" by Andrew Lippman
Thirty-five hundred dollars a week and roughly the size of my dorm room, it is a thoroughly unimpressive place. A table sits exactly in the center of the space with six chairs spread out around it - there's a rocking chair, an armchair, one wooden with a straight back, one metal with cushions, one computer chair that squeaks when it turns, and a tall, red, plastic one without any arms. Two of the walls have observation windows that look out to the hallway. Because the room is on the main corridor, not in the shelter of the in-patient ward, the windows are covered to protect our confidentiality. A previous group has spread craft paper over the windows and decorated it with motivational quotes and practical bits of advice for anyone in partial hospitalization. It's become one part of the discharge tradition to add your piece of departing wisdom. Today I choose to love these obscene freckles. Avoid bad habits! Beware the pretzels, they reproduce like jack rabbits.
-- from "Menu Planning" by Anne Reece