When I look into a mirror, I don’t look at myself. I look at my lips. Red is the color of power and I am a slave to making sure they stay universally desirable.
When I look into a mirror, I don’t love the rest of myself. I try to ignore that mauve has made a home for itself below my eyes. Blue veins with green and violet branches cover my eyelids and hands in tangled, necessary system. Taupe pockmarks from scratching bug bites when I was a child season my ankles and wrists. Amber down sprouts in velvet crops beneath my spine and navel. Gunmetal shadows fill the absence of flesh around my collarbones and cheeks. A thin canvas of sallow skin pulls my colors together.
When I look into a mirror, I don’t always appreciate what I see. I’m learning to love my colors and celebrate the painting that has and has yet to come. Pinks and reds and nudes aren’t the only shades to admire. Our bodies are rainbows, fleetingly beautiful and priceless.
I would love to call you dear. I know your name and what your backyard looks like, because you told me during polite, if not somewhat forced, conversation. I know you double knot your shoelaces and that your hair turns into curls at the nape of your neck, because I’ve snuck glances at your silhouette for weeks.
I would love to call you dear, but I don’t know you. I don’t know your favorite color or what song fills your eyes with light or how you take your coffee. I don’t know any of the things that matter. I only know the most mundane details you’ve thrown around since you were able to speak. You shook my hand and shared these with me, unaware that I’d tuck them away and say them quietly to myself to revel in the feeling of knowing.
Everything I have ever loved has had a previous owner. I carry the treasures of others securely in the crook of my arm and pretend they’re mine. A jacket my father stained with sweat around the collar and cuffs. A pendant given to my sister made of onyx and gold. Field guides from thrift stores with inscriptions and bookmarks and cramped annotations. These are my pickings. Stolen nostalgia is piling up around me. It’s warming me through the winter, but I want to find my own way out. When will I begin creating my own trail of artifacts? Who will want to exhume my spirit?
The sky kissed me twice yesterday, good morning and good day. Once, upon waking, with a ray of light or love streaming in through dusty glass. And again, while walking, with a single raindrop like a pinprick on my lower lip. It was a warning, as if to say, “Hurry inside. My tears are for your world. Not for you.”