The Maynard
Spring 2016

Alyssa Cooper


A boy named Ruler broke me,

He had hands the size of cinder blocks,
and when he wrapped them around
my wrists,
his grip was too heavy to fight.
He pulled me down like
concrete shoes,
cold black water closing over my head
and filling up
my lungs,
leaching into my bloodstream
and taking root in every limb,
until the sun
was a distant pinprick in
some imagined sky.

A boy named Ruler broke me,
and as he held the shattered pieces
under the water,
he convinced me that I deserved it—
and I believed him.
I was old enough to learn a lesson
from our time together,
but young enough
that the lesson I learned was entirely
the wrong one.

There is a reason
that I flinch, whenever a hand closes over
my wrist,
there is a reason
that I still have dreams of a monster
with blue eyes
and long, black hair,
there is a reason
that I have turned away every heart ever
offered to me,
even those presented on velvet cushions,
silver platters,
pedestals of solid gold.
There is a reason
that my love is a fleeting,
and fretful,
and tempestuous thing.

A boy named Ruler broke me,
and I am still picking up
the pieces.

And I am tired.
I have been running for
thirteen years,
and I am tired down to
my bones.
Each time I find a seat to rest
my aching feet,
it is as if I have settled on knives,
a bed of nails,
a swarm of stinging bees, forcing me
back up.

But I love you,
and there may be days,
that leaving seems so much better
than staying,
when I see the door cracking open
and a wide world
with a bright sunset
beyond it,
but they are painted backdrops,
they aren't real,
and I have finally learned to grit my teeth
and bear it,
learned to dig in my heels like the stubborn mule
I have always been,
learned not to make decisions
I cannot take back until I can see
the brushstrokes,
until I remember that the sun is at my back,
that the world is in my hands,
that I do not hate
this simple little life I'm living,
that it's just this faulty stretch of wiring in my brain
that lights up like fireworks
when things get too easy,
too comfortable,
too set,
that diseased part of my brain that tells me I am
not worth staying,
not worth loving,
that I must leave before I can
be left.

A boy named Ruler broke me,
and the scars are still there, on my wrists
and the soles of my feet
and my stomach.

A boy named Ruler broke me,
and I am still picking up
the pieces.