1. tell a man he has his fathers friendly face if he’s only ever
seen his rigid back.
2. stay in the room while she is changing. there are scars on
her body that even she hides from while she is undressing
so please, do not take it personal.
3. keep score of every man who left you like your father on the borderlines
you have carved on your small wrist.
4. write poems about how your mothers cries late at night
sound like hail and hail and snowstorms and branches toppling
over cars and helplessness. how the wrinkles around her eyes
remind you of sidewalks in Haiti.
5. write poems about how your mothers eyelids were always softer than
the belly of a ripe peach even when they were colored like an eggplant.
6. sleep with men who hastily peel every article of clothing off of your
body but can’t read your silences.
7. feel guilt when you get lost in yourself for days and weeks and years.
8. leave your fathers name keyed into bark.
9. when he steals your innocence and decides to leave you for the
high-breasted cheerleader the following week, do not chase after him.
do not kiss him with a plea under your tongue. do not tell him you
love him with an ocean of apologies behind your eyelids. suns will rise without him and you won’t smile today, or the day after, or the one after that, but you will meet a man who traces constellations over your stretch marks and kisses the loneliness from your collarbones.
10. when grief sneaks up behind you tapping on your shoulder the one day you find your smile,
when your stomach feels like an earthquake and you are a 10 on the Richter Scale,
when you feel like a caterpillar carrying heartbreak on the small of your back,
deep in the trenches,
blinded by nostalgia,
when you feel half-alive,
do not drink yourself into blackness because a hangover isn’t the only
way to feel human
sleep with a stethoscope over your warm chest.
11. feel small.
12. apologize for being human.