Authors: Ellen Hopkins
Pleaded with him not to live
without me. Write. Call.
I will. I promise.
And I promised I would
come back to him.
I want to give you something.
I can’t believe I let him,
me, la gallina extrema.
So you’ll never forget me.
(The extreme chicken.)
Closed my eyes.
I’ll always be a part of you.
Gritted my teeth, locked
into the love of the needle.
Right there, on your thigh.
And accepted Adam’s tattoo,
the tiny heart a very big
Stashed under your skin.
symbol, forever bonding us,
his ink in my flesh.
It Throbbed the Next Day
I Still Wasn’t Down When We Landed
Tightened Airport Security
No one greeted me
on the far side of the jetway,
no relatives, no friends,
only slot machines.
Tugging those two
carry-ons, upper thigh
itching like crazy beneath
a tight pair of jeans.
I wandered toward
the escalators, a 50-foot-long
mural of blue Lake Tahoe
flanking me on my left.
in purple boas (and not
much else) smiling
at me from the right.
Kristina drawn left,
Bree to the right,
the monster started to
retreat just in time.
I Saw Them
before they saw me—
the whole fam-damily turned out to greet me:
Jake, sweaty and animated,
auburn hair (And where did
come from, Mother?)
ruffled, freckled face (Thank God I missed that recessive gene!)
with summer color.
Leigh, on summer break,
too “Brittney-ish” (So much of Mom’s platinum beauty!)
to really be gay, (What a waste—like a butch would care!)
legs to die for,
unshaved in short shorts.
Scott, face losing
stress as he (Hard day, or another argument?)
put work behind him, (Mom could have done worse—and had!)
tall, lean, and great
looking for 40.
Mom, somehow prettier
with laugh lines, (Would I be able to say the same?)
visible from here, (Would I ever even be that beautiful?)
and a smile that could
light a starless night.
Right at that minute,
she saw me. (And, just for an instant,
her smile was all mine!)
Then She Caught Sight
not quite right,
not quite familiar.
that I was me.
and my family
Homecomings Are Strange
You come home,
and everyone talks
and everyone asks
but no one waits for the answers.
Instead they talk about themselves,
what they’ve been
what they’re going
to do next,
as if you’re a photo on the wall.
And then they talk to one another,
forgetting you’ve just
forgetting you’re in
forgetting they’ve already said it all.
And you want to shout,
can’t you see
can’t you see I’m
Can’t you see me at all?
My Mom Says “I Love You” with Food
So we went out to dinner. Not McDonald’s, either.
We went to a buffet. A mega casino-style buffet:
Salads—Oriental chicken; wilted spinach; ambrosia; three-bean;
crab (at least that’s what they call it); potato (three kinds); pasta
(five kinds); carrot & raisin (nasty); and, of course, green.
Entrees—pizza, lasagna, mushroom ravioli; fried chicken,
roasted chicken, chicken piccata; mahi, halibut, and deep-fried
cod; mashed, baked, scalloped potatoes; vegetables; and on the
carving board, roast beef, roast turkey, and roast loin of pork.
Desserts—apple, cherry, and lemon meringue pies; angel, carrot,
and triple-chocolate cakes; pastries, cookies, rum balls, and
truffles; cobblers and bread pudding; soft-serve ice cream, with
all the fixings; and for sweet-tooths on a diet, strawberries
(forget the diet, top with whipped cream!).
So Mom gets two plates (low carbs), strawberries (no whipped cream).
Leigh gets three, eats half of each, skips dessert.
Scott eats most of three, with a brownie and ice cream for dessert.
Jake finishes four, down to the gravy; tops that off with three desserts.
As for me, still battling
for brain and
I picked at a
Home Sweet Home
Despite All Trepidation
Despite the monster,
fluttering in and out of my head
like some demented moth, drawn
to whatever light might be left there,
demanding I find a way to get high,
as if I had a clue where to get crank
back here in Kristina Land,
helping me lug one suitcase,
her hand annoyingly pinching mine
with every tug, every pull,
dropping the other suitcase
down an entire flight of stairs,
spilling shampoo, lotion, and tampons,
smelling depressingly clean,
while my own speed-induced
body odor reeked ever stronger,
despite my mom,
insisting I looked fabulous, having
dropped four or five pounds, all the
while wondering if anorexia had arisen….
I Slithered Down the Hall
into the haven
of the bathroom,
until I thought
it might blister,
studied my thigh,
at the angry
green pocket of pus
the purple welt—
symbol of love.
The Door Opened
I did scream then.
But it was only Leigh.
Hey, it’s only me.
Kinda jumpy, aren’t you?
“Did you need something?
I’m naked you know.”
I’ve seen you naked before.
’Course I’ve never seen that before.
She pointed to the tattoo.
What could I do but ask her opinion?
In my opinion, you’ve got one nasty
infection. Did you sterilize the needle?
Thinking back, I wasn’t so sure.
But I said, “Of course he did.”
did, huh? Your hard-bodied,
dark-haired dream boy did
So then I had to tell her everything.
Except I left out about the monster.
Well, I hope that’s the only infection
he gave you, in love or no.
So then I got my back up. Played
defense to her quarterback sneak.
No need to get your back up.
I was just kidding, and of course
girls can carry STDs too.
So then Bree felt much better, while
Kristina felt really bad.
I know you’re sorry. No worries.
Let’s chalk it up to jet lag.
described it better,
synapses quieting, gray
matter shutting down, except
the pain center part, Leigh’s elementary
nursing—alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and a
dab of Neosporin—had only managed to make
the aching mess hurt even more, although
she probably killed off a germ or two.
At least, lost in the center
of my bed, I didn’t have to wear
jeans or jammies or even panties.
Naked, in that cool tangle of cotton
sheets, I felt myself slip far, far away,
deep beneath an indigo ocean. Down, down,
into a silent, lightless land, and there, in the darkness
I found my Adam.
Funny thing, your brain,
how it always functions on one
level or another. How, even stuck in
some sort of subconscious limbo, it works