He said my brokenness was beautiful.
And silly me! I must have liked that
because I allowed my butterflies to
dance in their grave so much that
finally they rose like a tornado and
went insane. Poor things, they’re just like me.
He told me also, on a day made of snow
while his whistle drowned out the wind,
that he really did think I was a clever one,
but of course he couldn’t say so to my face.
What he did tell me over and over like it was
the song in some sick music box that he adored
watching me spin to: my brokenness was beautiful.
He insisted it was refreshing to find the one girl
out of hundreds who was honest and real with him.
I should’ve known right there and right then that
when he cradled my brokenness with fingers like daggers,
it was because he intended to cherish it forever.
Because he was so enraptured by the ashes
weeping where they lay on broken glass that he failed
to understand my heart is a phoenix, forever reassembling
the pieces, one spark, one sparkler at a time, rising again,
flying again, singing again, shining again, yes, I should have
known his eyes beheld no greatness when he held his stare
at the dagger embedded in my chest to stop the heartbeat.
I should have reached out- like his hands grabbing my skin
and ripping it off my body in the dead cold of the night-
and traced a line, connected those dots. I should have seen it,
should have known. Maybe I have no one to blame but myself.
Even now I must admit I do not know if deep down
he was in love with the china doll or simply addicted to breaking it.
Lucky for me, I tolerate neither, so I’ll tell you one more time,
no sir, you will not find the stale vestiges of bitterness you search for
inside of me for, yes sir, for your information, I have purged them already.
I forced them from the nest they’d made in my gut and I ripped them
through the fabric of time and spice rushing inside me like wind through the trees
and I pulled them out through my throat. Silky spiderwebs tearing away
the ugly midnight memories as they went, I expelled them from my being
and I erased the girl with the life that they knew. Good riddance.
What you don’t understand is that my body was built for better things
than that, better things than you, even bigger and better
than the Broken Girl you thought you could make your own.
Yes, you heard me right but you weren’t listening, were you?
So I’ll say it again, take one more look if you dare at the body you laid waste to
and scorched like dry earth under the cruel summer sun
and know that it was made for better things.
Like my mothers before me, I was designed to grow and bloom
even if time and time again I find myself the only rose in the desert.
I’ve come to realize: not every rose comes with a thorn.
Brianna R Duffin was a senior at Haverford High School when she submitted this poem. She now studies English at Rosemont College with the hope of earning an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Publishing. She publishes her work on Medium @briannarduffin.