teenage emma introduces herself

I struggled to think of a way to introduce stories of my younger self.

I have a bad memory for my childhood and adolescence, and even those memories I do have tend to be very atypical in structure and content. I remember sensations, movements, places, but few coherent narratives, or entire events. I can’t search for memories in my head by thinking of an emotion–were I a witch, I would suck at conjuring a Patronus–except for one, which I don’t know how to name. It’s almost like “awe,” but would probably be best described as a kind of “flow” (it’d be a specifically autistic kind, not quite Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow”). Memories of that feeling are easy to find, and comfortable. For the Wordsworth fans in the audience (wow, I’m really going full-scale-nerd in this post): they’re like spots of time.

Anyways, that tangent aside, I really didn’t know how to bring people with me into my head so that they could see what the world felt like for me when I was younger. But then I remembered that, in fact, I do know a way to try and bring people into my world. I always have, to a certain extent. So I figured that, with a bit of help, younger me could probably speak for herself…

untitled

everything is covered in tiny little bottles full of
potential like fronds
of paper that spill out and onto the ground bursting
with eighty-five colors
and eighty-five thousand words to describe each color so that everything that you could ever say about anything falls out
in front of your toes like a giant web of
probability

thinking in the dark one two three four five six
stand up and
all those pieces have fallen into places where they fit
i breathe it in through that
tiny hole in my breastbone and
feel other lives beat between my lungs,
then soar
then hang halfways between
my ears like kites, rolling in the wind

i live in flashes
a club rat between windows and doors and
different flavors all over all the time

thinking splinters like old wood leaving me
with a thin king for a brain,
delusional and handsome
he loves flickers and sounds and those extra noises that people make when they aren’t
saying anything at all
and hand gestures like gold coins falling

no
say please
be polite, and nobody will think you’re crazy

[i wrote this when i was probably fourteen. i didn’t have any diagnoses yet (i got the ADHD diagnosis at 16, the ASD at 21). so i had none of the medications i have now. and i’d just started puberty. my brain was basically a giant neurochemical-stuffed pinata (minus the dopamine…always no dopamine). it was like someone had turned the entire world on an ever higher volume than it had been before, and then pumped my veins full of adrenaline.]

the inside city + the outside city

i whistle like a rollercoaster
tilt forwards and hold until
people fall from my head
seatbelts dangling

crowded inside the edge of
the center of a mob

curl into my shoulders
cover me and muffle the noises
that crawl over my skin
in defense
crinkling my hands and pressing
them up against my face
i
gather cloth beneath me for
a bed and fold like laundry
clean and soaking and
washed out

see my apartment building eyes?
see the steps on the bridges of my arms?
the generator runs electric beneath my chest.
i have been hollowed out and my insides
replaced
with caricatures and children

[fifteen. anxious doesn’t quite begin to cover it. and anxious means impulsive. and hypersensitive. when i went to a doctor about stress/anxiety shortly before my ADHD diagnosis, they did a test of my salivary cortisol levels where i swabbed the inside of my cheek at three different times one lazy summer day when i had virtually nothing to do. the tests showed that my cortisol levels were three times higher than they should be. but i’d felt totally normal that day, i remember thinking. normal is relative.]

i know not now
where my feet are
in this room

perhaps on the ottoman
perhaps under the table
perhaps outside the false
ring of stillness i’ve drawn
around my knees

i hope that all is
not lost

or at least
not my feet

please is in vain or maybe
i am vein—unnecessary hope
circulating into
my limbs

[context: seventeen. ADHD meds, plus some light therapy. some depression. quite detached. my my.]

someone has pulled the corners
of this sky tight around heaven

the burnt edges of dawn drape
down and trail in dust

a crow pricks
inkstains over thread
quickened and dark

my bed is above the rain
and i breathe alone

water goes below me
i am too light to fall

[nineteen. college. new england.]

skin fine a coil of wire
woven full sound
then spring one falling
current over over
over light the night-time with
half-things calling to each other
a slow hum
whirred over blew a
coiled soul
aflame with memories
soft things—pity and hate
melt over the corners
bent and pointed hands
veiled golden cold to open
biting at the air

[twenty]

I think younger me does a pretty good job, honestly.
P.S. I don’t have much from before middle school, writing/poetry wise, for reasons that would take a long time to explain. But I have some older stuff, and I’m always looking for more of it, so if I find anything I wrote as a younger kid I’ll definitely share what I can!

13835_1142450794631_1028304070_364337_134363_n[1]
17-year-old me with shoulder length hair, in a black t-shirt, doing an incredible Tyrannosaurus rex impression. I may not be the most photogenic person in the world, but my dinosaur impressions are, quite frankly, transcendent.

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