For My 30-Year-Old Self

by Cyn Kitchen

it can & does
in fact
get worse. you
were never one
to listen. this
is to say I doubt
you start now.
though I know
what comes next
I won’t say,
for the sake
of surprise &
because research
reveals injuries
tend to be worse
when a body
braces against
I know this now
& will say to you then,
though I doubt
you heed me,
learn to love
yourself. you have no clue
what I mean. not really.
so try this:
study sorrow
learn the lines of its face
the twist of its finger,
feel it like a hammer,
feel it like whitewater.
wake in the pitch
of night to worry the edges
of its blanketed fringe.
also, draw the stars into
your palm, blow them away.
learn the holiness
of color & when you
find yourself
flat in the grave of grief
you long to swallow you
whole, reach into
daylight & let
the world pull you
to life again.

I know,
it sounds awful.
it is awful. even worse.
but trust me on this.