For Virginia Woolf
My ankles are still sore from your fur-lined cuffs
Now stranded on the shore to be lost
Maybe you’ll find them, maybe you wouldn’t care
Maybe I’ll have second thoughts.
But for now, I tread into the river
I scratch the surface and fail to understand
The tides kiss me and lull in promise
It won’t hurt, it won’t hurt for long.
I had sworn some day I’d learn to swim
But they cut off my hands, put stones in my fleece
I still tried. I built myself wings, remember?
Then you said the stars were too good for me.
Little by little, I learned to drown
I learned to howl into my pillow
But in the river, I can cry a sea
It won’t hurt, it won’t hurt to go.
For now, I have the tides at my throat
And I wonder if the shore is too far away
I could go that way, or I could just spiral down
Like a chewed piece of bone spat into the drain.
Underneath my dress, the stories ripple
In my dreams, I walk on water
Like fingers on sand, I write on my skin
It won’t hurt, it won’t hurt when it’s over.
I am me. I’m the river, I’m the tides
I’m the undertow that’s wild and tired
My soul is water, my bones — the salt
I could decay, I could disappear.