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To the Crumpled Papers at the Bottom of My Backpack


You were my paper scraps I was too scared to throw away
In the wastebasket sitting across the room.
The lack of anatomy in bad anime sketches.
My shitty, unfinished poems.

You were my old assignments, too tired to put away properly.
My fantastical dreams for my future, written up in class instead of listening.
My discarded plans for who i wanted to be but never was.
You’re my self-loathing roots, growing up
And out of my mouth like a vomit.

You’re the two braids I wouldn’t wear for years because
“I looked like Pippi Longstocking.”
You’re the men’s XL tie-dyed shirt I made at summer camp
That became my comfort blanket.
You’re the anxiety I felt when I even thought about breathing through my mouth
When my nose was too stuffed up.
You’re the artwork I once loved
But turned to hate
As my art teacher gave me a B after I ruined you for a “good grade.”
You’re the playlists and cues for a performance
After my insecurity and those emails to my parents turned me against you.
You’re the lock on the bathroom door,
Keeping me safe as i bawl my eyes out,
Listening to my mom on the phone complain about me,
Saying things that aren’t true.
You’re the shattered pieces missing as I “shut down”
And my mom yells at me that I’m “broken.”
You’re my childhood friend
And that nice MAC employee
Who thought I was mute.
You’re my plaid purple winter jacket
And my harry potter book
In Texas’ 103° summer heat.

You are everything I hate about myself,
Yet you are everything I am today.

You’re my job,
You’re the adoration from my managers.
You’re my coveted therapy appointments.
You’re my well-used gym membership.
You’re my collection of CDs
Sitting in my beloved 2005 camry.
You’re my straightened smile,
My one good eye.
You’re the spit as I speak,
My mispronounced words
And british-sounding “accent.”
You’re my word vomit and drool on these very pages.
You’re my morning cold brew with the
Expensive oat milk and yummy hazelnut.

You’re my yearbook teacher who reads my silly Car Seat Headrest articles,
Who tells me “great job!” and loves the yearbook spread I’ve made.
You’re my history teacher who inspires me every day,
And who listens to me tell him random shit in his bellringers,
You’re my creative writing teacher who’s taught me for so many years,
And has a listening ear for anybody and everybody.
You’re my crazy english teacher who stays up too late,
And loves what she teaches.
Who handcrafted me a fucking wooden wand for saying something smart,
And who emails me to thank me for participating and asking questions,
Who makes me feel loved.

You’re the tears I’m holding in during this zoom meeting,
And everyone I want to thank,
But never will, because I am just too scared.

© 2021 Melanie Wynne

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