By Ruby Walker

I

I want to tell you a story without all the bad parts
I want to squeeze out the sinking black phlegm of that sad prologue,
that pity party, the melodrama of an unspoken plea,
please don’t leave me I’m scared of what I’ll think when I’m alone

Firefly street lamps flicking on in a soldier’s line
I still think it’s crass to mention the way I hurt myself
the sick rush of warmth that overtakes me when I see that your scars
are exactly where mine should be

Can’t we start over with ourselves every day like strangers on the
capital metro?
I only want to show you my face if it has the right amount of fangs but
I don’t always get it right
How much of my belly do I display to gain your interest?
and how much is just begging for it

Can’t we start over with ourselves every day like strangers on the
metro?
I believe that people can change
and I still feel the need to prove it by dragging ten
red headed corpses around by the ankles and showing them off at
every stop
When are we allowed to leave our old bodies behind?

Can’t we start over with ourselves every day like strangers on the
metro?
You’re sitting in the spot I like to take,
in the very back corner where there’s room to stretch your legs
I put my body next to yours and bite wet scabs off the inside of my
cheek,
resist the urge to crow about the triumph of closeness

The side of your arm pressed to mine,
it isn’t fucking, isn’t wild,
there’s no probable cause for the way I’m sweating into this blue
carpet seat

Can’t we start over with ourselves every day like strangers on the
metro?
Shards of time when I forget the bodies are watching
Drunk and high on snail trails of silver moonlight dancing furiously to pound loose gravetop dirt back to sleep
The waterfall at Five Mile dam spilling the weight of a river onto my
numb shoulders
Sweet red hibiscus brewing slowly in the sun
with no concept of history nor hurry, just a continuous insistent rush of unrepeatable nows

If I begin again then that means there was a “before,” an antithesis,
a pre-history,
Starting over only makes another corpse of me
But I need them, the bonds of vigilance
I need all of my skeletons out of the closet and in my bed with me
where I can watch them
Make sure they never move

I want to tell you a story without all the bad parts,
Can’t we start over like strangers on the metro?

II

“Can’t we start over every day like strangers on the metro?” you ask me. I keep my cold greedy hands tucked under my thighs, away from your heart.

And I like the idea, I do, but what if one day the bus kneels down with a hiss and you don’t like the girl who steps on? What then, if we’re always changing faces? Would you like a brunette today, and can I kiss your cheek?

You are terrified that one day these freely given moments will be signed away to a name. You sit in the back row and avoid written language. I fear that one day you’ll slip out the side exit without a goodbye. I sit in the back row and try to love you in a way that isn’t binding. No seatbelts pressing into our shoulders, just pangs of warm sunlight coming through the East window. I’m scared of a crash but I won’t get off. The day is just beginning.

III

Can’t we start over every day like strangers on the metro?
I make myself fresh in every new moment
locking old worries up
a braided lock of hair my mother kept in her jewelry box when I
was seven

The callus on my finger
these pockmark stitch scars clipped back locket clasps

The window is fixed, the blood is gone and my gold heart hangs open around her neck

I make myself fresh. I dip the wick. My old bodies stay inside me like they always have
wax layers living, aching, growing
skinned knees suicides sunshine
kiss me while I’m still myself

I’m always myself — her only distinct feature is an ever changing
face

I make myself fresh and i’m trying to do it without casualties this time
I, me, us,
I am the 7 year old who punched a glass window and made a canyon on
her arm I am the damage and the stitches and the ugly waxy scar that
healed over it

I am ache of denial,
burn of indulgence,
nights on the bathroom floor under stars, in the closet

I guess I have to accept that there were never any bodies to drag except
the one that lives, the one that is me, the best and worst of it all jumbled
up inside telling stories about serendipity and death on public transit
trying to escape metaphor and achieve metamorphosis
I hug my own small bony shoulders and attempt to love this story, right
from the beginning.

Ruby Walker is a 19-year-old visual artist and writer from Austin, Texas. Her work focuses on mental health, lesbianism, and the beauty of small everyday moments. Her first book, Advice I Ignored, is an illustrated memoir about depression and recovery, and her poem “Dear Friend, I Can’t Tell You,” was published in the previous edition of High Noon. Her website is rubywalker.com and her twitter is @rubyirl.

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