You have my permission not to love me;
I am a cathedral of deadbolts
and I’d rather burn myself down
than change the locks.
Rachel McKibbens, “Letter From My Brain To My Heart”
When he says
He doesn’t love you anymore,
Roll your shoulders back
And look him in the eye
Even when it feels like your ribs
Are breaking inward, like spider legs.
When he digs up old aches
That he swore he forgave you for,
And ask him why he didn’t leave you sooner.
Ignore the way the words feel like sandpaper
Running all the way up your throat to your mouth.
When he blames you
For mistakes that wear his face,
Do not scream.
Do not cry.
Tell him that there are boys
Who would be proud to say they’d loved you.
Tell him that in two years
You won’t even remember his name
And don’t let him see the way you can taste your own lie.
When he leaves
Ignore the howling in your blood
And do not get up after him.
Not even to lock the door.
Do not, do not
Smell his shirts when you box them up
To give them back.
Swear off dating when you realize
You’re chasing ghosts that wear his smile.
It’s okay to cry over him.
It’s even okay to forgive him.
But do not go back to him.
If he did not know how to love you the first time,
He won’t know how to do it the next.
How To Pretend It Doesn’t Hurt, by Ashe Vernon
Blossoming pink trees on the mountainous landscape of Nanjian Yi Autonomous County in southwest China.
Darlings, sometimes love will come to you like a fire to a forest. When it does, be braver than I was. Just leave. Take only what you can carry. No tears, no second thoughts. You have hands like tinder boxes, the smallest spark will kill you.
Get in the car. Take water to the maps. Avoid gas stations. Don’t look at the flames dancing in the rear view mirror. Go to new cities, climb on the rooftops and slow dance with your coldest memories. Wallpaper your new home with every dusty, desperate love letter you swore you’d never send.
Find a stranger with sharp edges and uncharted hips. Press your stories into their skin and forget you ever knew his name. Just promise you won’t think of embers or smoke.
Even when there is ash in your hair. Even when there is soot in your mouth.
"I don’t want to live anymore."