'Be Yourself'

Be yourself,

They tell us

As I’m scolded for wearing neon nail polish on my fingernails

The first time I got in trouble at school

It was for walking too fast in the hallway

Walking too fast, I repeated

Walking too fast

To sit in a class

Where they tell us to be ourselves

So I stopped talking

I walked too slow

And I blended in

Living in a state of ambivalence

If I wrote my memoir

At 22

I would have to include whatever my first word was

And all the ones after that I wanted to say but couldn’t

The candy grams that meant so much at the time and

The piece of cardboard you wrote on

That I stapled into my journal

And I’d write about the salty tears

That landed on a pillow that was never mine,

But I knew well enough to pretend like it was,

Because it was, almost,

For a moment

I forgot who I was

Because my sense of self came from

Looking in the mirror

But home is merely a heartbeat and

I am only a fragment of every person I’ve ever known

All the things I’ve asked to be polite and

All the clutter I’ve saved in case I need it one day

How was I supposed to know that one day

All I’d need is some words

A hand

A hot cup of cheap coffee and a pen

To be myself