by Ruth Awad
And the lie is that I survived because parts of me didn’t.
So take all the sorrow you can carry,
like my mother’s cabinets of Slim Fast
and Little Debbies and the weight
we would never lose, how we stood
in front of mirrors and men
hoping one would change our minds
and neither did. Look, here, in her letters
and their cursive of longing: Baby, survive this.
Listen, I was only sixteen and drunk
on wine coolers and teenage invincibility,
limp over a stranger’s bathtub, I was lifted
lifted into a bedroom and birdsong
erupted in the delirious morning light.
Her letters sigh, You’ve lost too much weight.
Your dad is starting to worry. Her letters remind
me it could’ve been worse. When I told her what
happened she asked, Was he cute?
None of us got what we deserved.
Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet whose debut poetry collection Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press 2017) won the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry and the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and she won the 2012 and 2013 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, The Rumpus, The Missouri Review, Sixth Finch, Crab Orchard Review, The Adroit Journal, BOAAT Journal, and elsewhere. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including Bettering American Poetry Vol. 2.