I was always a collector.
Stickers placed lovingly in plastic-skinned books
swapped for a felt unicorn beckoning with it’s horn.
Stacks of magazines at my bedroom door in
glossy-lipped deceit, glaring white teeth,
speech-bubbled thoughts women are meant to think.
It was about owning something better,
the inculcation of consumerism,
bags and books and clothes and shoes,
all things to close holes, crevices,
the spaces between being which left me incomplete.
Sea shells plucked from shores
where I left shadows of my feet
later eaten away by a gobbling tide,
toys with cotton organs and shiny black eyes,
discs and files of melody
to stop me hearing the ever-present silence.
It was hard being lonely.
Snails named Larry, Goldfish called Frankie,
collage-covered journals plump with sad teenage scribbling,
friends who never understood because I didn’t know me.
Mass text messages when I had nothing to do,
as if 160 characters from anyone could make up a whole,
but we are all empty until we fill ourselves.
I was a decade of convent schoolgirl education,
I was the echoes of my parents screaming at each other
like bats trapped against our ceiling,
I was novels of knowledge and nonsense
devoured underneath my desk like illicit candy,
I was lust-soaked panties,
writing suggestive notes to the girl in the next class,
sticking my probing tongue into boys’ mouths,
trying to fill them the way I wanted them to fill me.
I was a collector
of people who gave me their insides,
hearts clutched in fists presented with desperation,
ten years of relationships with those
who only ever wanted me comfortable, happy,
to lay me down on cushion-encrusted futons and feed me,
but that doesn’t seem to work anymore,
the gratification of safety, partners secure and easy.
I do not want to take anything from you,
my halo-headed lion, my nimble-fingered ancient,
I want to empty myself in you, no expectation of return,
write you poems bursting from my pores,
inhale the glow of your face that hurts to breathe with its’ beauty,
I want to stroke creases of stress from your clever temples,
sing you songs of now and the future,
show you that the past can cease to matter.
Though your words shudder through barriers of protection,
though your laughter dances sometimes afraid,
though your smile has to stretch to touch your eyes
hiding behind themselves from the light,
I do not fear your darkness.
For I am an empty chapel, words ringing in praise of you,
I am the hollow inside of a drum ready to be played,
I am the quiet reprieve of an untouched cave
and the gurgling spring evaporating within it.
The things I have collected are now yours,
my hoarding is over.
I will become nothing for you.
I will be a vacuum for you.
I am ready, and if you’re not that’s okay.
At least I am.