The Dust On This Poem Could Choke You | Lora Mathis

I am throwing out all of the clothes you touched me in.
I am burning every poem with your name in it.
But I am still holding onto some of the letters you wrote me.
I tell myself it’s to remember.
I tell myself it’s because I am afraid
of forgetting the early warning signs.
I tell myself I’m not sentimental.

I’m not sentimental.
I’m just afraid of throwing every burning thought
I have about you into the trash
and starting a wildfire.

I am shaking on the ground in my bedroom,
realizing that it is two years until I turn the age
you wanted to marry me at.
I am using the candles on my
twenty-first birthday cake
to burn “grow up” into my knees.
I am in the front row at a show,
realizing that if I heard this song two years ago,
I would have thought about you.

Thinking about you takes effort now.
You no longer pour out when I open my mouth.
These days, if I want to bleed you out,
I have to grab a knife.

I am in the waiting room checking off “suicidal thoughts”
on the general form. I am figuring out
which parts of my personality are mine
and which ones I created to please you.
I am in the doctor’s office, holding my head high and not
quivering when she asks me if I’m okay.
I am biting down on my lip until I taste rust when she
mentions putting me on antidepressants.
I am getting better, I swear.

I am feeling the tears well up and not letting them fall.
This is a form of self-abuse.
This is a form of reliving my youth.
This is a form of remembering what it felt like to be near you.


Lora Mathis was raised in both Southern California and Montreal. She now lives in San Diego, where she is studying Creative Writing and Human Sexuality. Interested in both photography and poetry, Lora is in the process of co-founding an art collective called Wildflower, which will produce collaborative visual art around the theme of struggle-both structural and internal. She is also co-founding a Press called ink/paper and, through it, will put out her first book of poems. Her creative work has been featured in Words Dance Literary Magazine, Adbusters, and Sweetest Magazine.

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