A LIST OF THINGS I AM
By Kimberleigh Costanzo
Published in RECLAMATION: A Survivors’ Anthology, March 2018
I am scribbled script on flesh.
I am making text out of trauma out of text out of movement out of trauma out of flesh out of history.
I am the story, block by block, in my grandmother’s quilts.
I am keys pressed gracelessly, but somehow forming hymns.
I am the comfort crocheted into a craft project, loops counted in a whispered tone by my mother in her armchair.
I am the smell of shellfish shelled by a group of poor boys on the water, now grown, now men, now one of them my father.
I am clothes borrowed and stolen from the closet of my sister.
I am the perpetual striving of a suburban somebody, everything just out of reach.
I am the same body that saw him on campus, ran from the computer lab, vomited in the trash can in front of the dining hall, then again next to the dumpster, and once more between chokes and gags and tears in my dorm room toilet before throwing my body into the bathtub and swallowing warm, dirty water, salty with my sweat and tears, sweet with whispers, and tender like a bruise taking shape.
(Rorschach-like, I asked myself, “WHAT DO YOU SEE? DOES THIS SMUDGE OF BLOOD REMIND YOU OF A BUTTERFLY? DOES THIS BLOOD VESSEL BURSTING LOOK LIKE A MAN GOLFING? DOES THIS FLESHY YELLOW BRUISE MAKE YOU THINK OF A SUNSET?” I want meaning in my meaning in my meaning in my pain in my flesh, so I can be read like a book, then put on a shelf.)
I am rare, medium rare.
I am not a book on a shelf, but you can read me if you are gentle.
I am April and November.
I am howls and I am hums.
I am sick until I’m better.
I am a body no longer numb.