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.