Paris Jessie

Unclean

As if, I’m not a seed that was once planted. Now sprouting. As if, the sun does not water me, like I don’t need it. As if, the depression and anxiety do not keep deflowering me. I don’t like it. I let them know I don’t want to be touched. You don’t have my consent. Today, leave me alone. I know: 

                I am not their maker. 
                I am a force to be reckoned with. 

I write through it. So forcefully you would think my hands are bleeding from the pen. I command myself, my soul, to get to it. Write it out. Do not let these words off into the abyss. My heart makes up its mind:

                You better put that to use. 
                You better dig. 
                Right here, right now.
                Wipe that lovely face.  

And then like holy matrimony I baptize some pages. I water that which already comes from the earth with my innerness. 

                How is that for a tree of life? 

There are elements of nature at the front door of my spirit. 

                Water, fire, earth, wind.

They’ve been sweetly knocking. But too, there is a backdoor. The hinges ripped. It keeps slamming, going:

                Open.
                Close.
                Open.

But I am not that little girl anymore. With a frailty still in my voice, I say:

                Bring it. 

Overly confident, perhaps. Delicately prepared, maybe. Sometimes my whole being just starts marching forward, while I am spinning, full, three-sixties, all at the same time. But it is okay. Because of the ease when I turn on Pip Millet or Jordan Rakei—both on repeat—dancing all over the place. I wonder:

                Where do they smile this big at?

This lets me know. I adore me. And whatever is in me shall take care of me. It is so sweet. 

***

And sometimes it is bitter. I never failed to put words like, “multitasker,” “proactive,” or “detail-oriented” on my resume. 

                Why? 

Because they live on my skin. Depression and anxiety can really just swim up your spine when they choose. So here I am, often, tasked with the role of juggling this that comes and goes. Thinking on my feet to war them off. And getting down to the root of why they thought they were welcome. Surely, this is a mistake. Or this just may be how it is. 

I am learning to “switch the script.” Becoming a kind monster, they do not want to mess with.  Backed by pens, sheets of paper, and better than ever words that triumph over when they try to speak. Depression is getting lonely and a bit frustrated, how sad. While anxiety is playing a game of ding-dong ditch, but I already know who it is. 

When I feel thrown from my body, I clothe myself with sheer cosmos. The moon wraps me like a cape. The sun kisses me all over the face. The stars outdo tears and sparkle all up and down. The mountains show off their flexibility. And yes, they have put on a show for me.

***

It’s sad, maybe—sometimes I play—knowing I won’t stay. When I let the words seep onto the page and creep like the air when inching down a window. Fraternal twins given last minute names they cling like a little one’s memorable grip on their favorite toy. There they are acting up, bending your heart, and twisting your head. 

Who would think at the age of 2 or 3 you could be learning more than the English language? Dialects of shadows that couldn’t speak any louder. I didn’t have to go by plane—foreign—was my body not wrapped in a blanket with a little bit of light hitting a side of my face. 

Who would think at the age of 4 or 5 a body would pinky promise with a mind and teach the other the art of sunbathing? Soon to be a dearest friend. I didn’t like baths after playtime. Momma had a sweet way of communicating—like soft, but tethered wind—she didn’t know I was never ready to wash off that sun. She’d say like:

                Come on, we gonna be here. You go clean your body. 

She is not at fault. I was in foreign territory thinking:

                But momma said soap is not for eating, so how do I rinse my insides when it’s all soapy?

Those fleeting moments. Who would think at 6 or 7 one would have such lung capacity? Or that at 8 or 9 one would know how to scream underwater without allowing it to crash down your throat. 

See, I had savored the space next to my mother. In her cloud. The space was different than my own. When she would dream, I would too. I could bet this one time we dreamt the same night terror all the way through. A bathroom tattered peach, yellow with a shower that didn’t work and that toilet with its own beat. I had savored the asking: 

                Mommy, can I lay with you?

You never got upset. Ever. I wish I knew how much this meant. Because now I know you were just fleeting at times, too. 

 

A photo of a Black person with short hair and dark-rimmed glasses, wearing a taupe knit sweater. Part of their face is obscured by shadow while they look toward the camera.

Paris Jessie (she/her) is a writer and creative based in Los Angeles. She is also an on-call set medic. Through creative expression she hopes to disrupt the putting aside of issues such as mental health, intergenerational trauma, and historically-marginalized voices. She is fueled by poetry, dance, and videography. Other works of hers have appeared/forthcoming in BSW Chronicles, Serotonin, and Kaaterskill Basin. Her debut poetry collection, ‘leaves and their tree,‘ is available on Amazon. You may find her on Instagram @iamparisjessie or at iamparisjessie.com.

 

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