"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


Aphasia

at 9 pm I resume my daily ritual of staring
into the mirror, trying to find something
to love about myself.
self-loathing is the most elite form of narcissism,
two sides of the same petty coin, molded like
putty into the arc of your nose the round
of your hips the deep of your jaw
mom hates it when I crack my fingers
I don’t crack my knuckles I pull on each individual
finger until I hear that crunch, it makes her cringe but
I forget and do it absentmindedly while we watch tv

I’m not good at looking at a flower
and not finding myself in it, I’m not good
at drinking the water without hearing it
swish swish swish through my lungs
I’m not good at smiling--my left eyebrow
sticks up above my right, a caret
poking into my forehead like a skyscraper stabs the sky.
when I yawn my throat makes a bright orange
guttural sound and I become a flashing traffic cone
to everyone else in the room

I can’t remember words sometimes I cannot remember
the things I insist I know--just now
I furiously type search after search into google
“person who stands on the street with a sign
telling people when to walk” or “yes you can cross
the street person” or “human equivalent of a traffic cone?”
the inability to articulate is one of the most
inarticulable emotions I think as I grab at the air
with my hands as if the phrase will materialize
within my grimy fingers

I am a crossing guard,
existing just beyond the realm of articulation
you might remember my coat and my stop sign
but no one will remember my name


Casey Epstein-Gross writer and student living in Tallahassee, Florida, and was recently awarded a Progressive Leadership Award for Community Advocates by the National Leadership Council for Tallahassee and worked as a Communications Intern for Andrew Gillum's campaign for Governor of Florida.

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