Savannah Stoehr, Issue 03

My skin was a suit several sizes too small.

I’ve got stretch marks on my hips, arms, thighs, chest—

all the places my body couldn’t quite hold me in.

I will not tell my twelve-year-old self

just how long it will take

for her body to feel like home;

how many loves, labors, losses,

how many scars, chosen and not,

how many modifications this vessel will undergo

before it’s beaten into a shape she can withstand.

I will not tell her how many years she will spend

haunting her own house,

scrabbling at its walls for a foothold.

Sometimes, I think I was yanked from the world

before I ever got to set foot in it.

Sometimes, I think my life thus far has been one long DMT trip

with me standing on the threshold, staring out,

imagining what it would be like to be.

I will not tell my twelve-year-old self

how long she will stay planted in that doorway.

I’ll tell her this:

the sun rises

regardless of whether you believe in it.

You were born in the dark, and you think it’s all you know,

but you’re missing something.

You were born in the dark, and you fear the break of day—

you fear it will break you; you fear it won’t,

but in the end, you will only be grateful

and awed

when the light finally touches your skin.

When the dawn finds your stretch marks,

you will find yourself in love.

You will find yourself in a house,

weathered, scarred,

lived-in, ancient, and still there.

All at once, you will be,

as though that last forgotten switch finally flipped—

the circuit will close, the current will come,

and you will not wish to be anywhere else,

because you have built a home

of your own flesh and bone,

and you missed something:

you’re missing nothing.

I will not tell my twelve-year-old self

of the turbulent days ahead.

She already knows, and what she doesn’t

she’ll weather nonetheless.

I’ll tell her this:

Such a strange feeling,

the sudden rushing tide

of corporeality overtaking you.

You won’t know you’re a ghost

until you’re shocked back into life.