I went to a beach
where they scattered your ashes.
The sand was red like dirt on mars
and I wanted to cry its same storms
but I couldn’t figure out how.
I almost remember the waves
but I clearly recall your mom’s sadness
and thinking I didn’t belong
in her mourning space.
I went to the shores
to say goodbye to you
for the second time.
And when I woke up,
I finally let you go.
I sit in your office,
the last one on the left,
and I burst at the seams.
You are an hour’s worth of comfort
that I haven’t had in a long time
and you make it so easy to tell you things
I’ve hidden from even myself.
The combination of letters after your name
on your business card
and the language you use when you speak
have done well at convincing me
that you’re prepared
to see all of my monsters.
Maybe it wouldn’t matter
that you’ve gone to school for this,
that you’ve sat in classrooms for this,
attentively listening to lectures
on how to help make people
feel okay about existing.
Maybe I’d let all of this go anyway.
Regardless, I replace the ugly parts of my life
with the beautiful things you give me
while you sit at your desk
and take in all this pain.
In reference to my transition,
you asked, “who were you before?”
When I was 3 years-old,
and before I could comprehend
the idea that our souls
might move from body to body after death,
I asked my mom and grandma the same question
in regards to myself
while climbing the stairs
at my grandparent’s old house.
A house that I’m sure still possesses
snippets from my childhood,
hidden deep within the newly painted walls
and other renovations our hearts never approved of.
If you wanna know who I was before,
I was me but with certain parts not yet removed.
I was myself but with the term “addiction”
not yet part of my vocabulary.
I was a lesbian
complete with rainbow stickers on my car
and Melissa Etheridge in my CD player.
I was 1 of 3 people on my block growing up
with the same first and middle name
which is to say my birth name
was more popular in the 80’s than I ever was.
When you asked me that question,
you reminded me of all the versions of myself
that I haven’t been in years.
And you echoed how grateful I am
to be the version I am today.
You sat among the dead
on blankets made of picnics and lawn chairs,
used tombstones as backrests
and waited patiently for the fire to light the sky.
Such lonely graves aren’t used to
this much commotion
six feet above their decaying bodies.
The ghosts must be grateful
for the chance to lend you
their final resting place,
to have company with hearts
that pump blood through veins.
To hear voices that speak in color
instead of the haunt of black and white.
Maybe they laugh with you,
in their own silence,
their jaws aching from lips
being sewn shut for too long.
Maybe the smell of embalming fluid
has long worn off,
giving them a chance
to finally smell the flowers.