Please do not make me swallow my feelings,
because, while they may taste like chocolate and strawberries for some people,
my feelings go down like battery acid,
and my mother spent enough money
on braces that I rather like my teeth.
When he had custody,
my father demanded that we stop crying,
Give you a reason to cry.
And so I swallowed
until a cavernous hole formed itself in my throat;
until my chest froze over like trees in winter.
I have felt snow.
I have had no leaves to marvel at.
Because when you choke down your feelings,
the leaves don’t grow back in the spring.
Branches snap off if the wind blows too hard.
And so my teeth that once resembled a vampire’s
show now, some days because words and stories are hilarious.
And the cavern has filled with beach sand and salt water
and it’s enough for me to drown you.
In honor of PTSD Awareness day of June 27, this selection comes from the book, On Becoming a Role Model, available from Thirty West Publishing. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.
Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award winning poet and memoir author. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne was a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and has received honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award, the Doug Draime Prize for Poetry, and Joy of the Pen. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.
Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.