When you were young,
your skin was lush:
green and brown and beige—
Your hair billowed out behind you,
and we could have heard the songs of a thousand lives
lived out along the soil of your scalp—
If only we’d listened hard enough.
The sun snuck in through your strands,
and turned the earth beneath you dark and light,
dark and light,
Long locks partially obscuring the sun
before suddenly allowing it to reappear.
In The Lover, Marguerite Duras wrote of a woman’s face
that was once youthful, now ravaged.
But no one ever thought we’d have to say that
I’m sorry we didn’t listen hard enough;
sorry to count you among the women that man has burnt alive.
And I’m sorry that so many came and took by force
what you would have given them willingly.
I heard they carved a hole in your heart, Amazonia.
I heard they cut your hair.
In the wake of every heartbreak,
you reasserted yourself:
In the winter,
Your thin dark limbs reach into the whitened sky
with a moodiness to match my own:
Playful and melancholy and angry,
you are unpredictable;
you live in me
although I no longer live in you.
You should know those men never mattered,
because in the end it was always
My heart screams for
Not the one that got away,
but the one I got away from.
Masochism, as you know,
is no stranger to me.
Just before I left,
I laid in your valleys and stared up at your sky:
Bluer, somehow, than any other—
Like I could crawl up,
and drown in it.
I am told:
That one day I will envy who I am now,
That these fertile days will be tinged
with memories of fast-fading youth,
And that even depression looks good
on lithe, fresh-faced youth.
I am told:
Misery doesn’t matter,
so long as you’re desirable.
They all want to fuck you,
so why are you sad?
Why learn to get out of bed
if you can just find company
to join you?
Strength is a thing of children’s books,
revered until the path of least resistance
becomes the only path worth taking.
I am told:
That one day I will look back
through the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia,
That I will talk of this golden hour,
and I will laugh.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an American writer currently working in Montreal. She studied at Northeastern University and at University College Cork, and her work can be found in The New York Times, Hey Alma magazine, Film Ireland, and Bustle.