In the taste of the gentle bruising. In the hollow light grazing the tips of your thumbs. In the memory of patriotism and nationhood and dreamscapes. In the belief in something unnameable but identifiable, distinctive, inimitably yours. In the nauseating moonlight strange and weary against your eyes. In the tug of worn flesh.
It is a process; you are counting each day, you are directing yourself placidly into the butchering. You tell yourself that butchering is not anything if you refuse to be meat. You are humming with tenacity, with cold-witted laughter and bitter retorts. You resent idleness. You dry your eyelids on the gritty fabric of the internet and the drip of grey bathwater. You are un-alive in the week of counting, in the days before. In the sordid nighttime on the eve of spectacle, you bite your fingernails into dust and dampen your nerves with sleeping medication.
It forces and screeches for sight, for attention, for anyone to notice its foul disintegration of nationhood. You are just a girl. You are only a seventeen year old heart-spin but you feel all of the things you ought not to feel yet, all the morbid smells of colorless country. You tell the world you will be okay, you are melodramatic and impossible to comprehend. You are so dramatic, so preciously overwhelmed by the flickering spit of fear.
You do not watch the morning of. You pull unruly body into a limbless, floating bubble of impenetrable quiet. You have an early final today, so you shove toast congested with jam into the dry pockets of your mouth and swallow as forcefully as possible. You drain your acidic thoughts into trembling fingers and the glare of the coffee staring dumbly up at you, down the throat. It is too much. It is not nearly enough. It sucks in your stomach. It makes you roll your eyes at the National Anthem, makes your mind belly-flop into spite, exhaustion, discontent unlike any other.
You will not watch it, can’t watch it, but you commit a masochistic duty as a citizen and plummet your eyes into your cellphone, absorbing the nightmare through the protective plastic of a virtual sheen. You are safe here. You always will be, you think. You are not unlucky. You can be more than the way the greasy man’s lips, stained with the putrid cracks of women lost inside of his resentment, burst into an unforgettable cackle of all the things he could do to you and get away with, easily, like that, like that. You listen into the void of lost heartache and lull yourself into a melodious indifference, but it never works. You do not cry again. You fiddle with the rainbow hue of the bracelets curled into your wrists and wish for anything but today.
It is so white, so widely white, so white. It is ferociously homogenous and it threatens everything you have ever believed in, when you gaze stonily at the photographs of the event. You tell your friend, and she looks away, drenched in unease. You stop talking for the hour.
The day brims underneath the careful, pristine folds of your duties and thoughts, but it is latent, it is there and there it remains. It hurts like this: the memory of him and that holy book and the man you know is American and the man you know never will be and all of it- it is carved hard and slow into the delicate forest of flesh and anger. You are not his citizen. You are your own citizen, the one Barack Obama told you you could be, not a mindless entity of soft-spoken ivory and a collapsible voice. You are a citizen of a place, of an idea, of a legacy that evolves and lives in you and all those you love. You are not a citizen of this new man, of a thick-brained, dull-eyed unoriginal thing curving your adolescent body into meat and entitlement. You never will be any citizen of his.
You get up the next morning, and your body sags with that thought- did that really happen yesterday? Is this really my country?
You pull the grotesque, melancholy pieces of self into a semi-coherent pattern of the passion and need you know you have inside you. You knit it into a fierceness you forgot how to own until now. You stop being dramatic and start speaking, walking, moving again. You are not dramatic. You never were, you are so real, so human it shakes your heart into shreds. You squeeze the palms of other trembling girls with thoughts like yours and you hold that light inside of your hands. You walk outside again.
You march. You won’t stop for the next four years.