Phyiscal abuse/domestic violence
Gillian Anderson was my Sexual Awakening except I wasn’t so much awake as I was a groggy kind of confused. See, the 12 year old reflection of me would wake up still dreaming and wonder How can someone be so beautiful?
Well, Dear Younger Me: Roses are red Violets are blue I hate to break it to ya But you like girls too. But this is not a love poem.
I was hit with a much harsher wake-up call when I was 14, when I found that dreamlike feeling of white-hot lightning could come off the screen and into my reality. The first time we met, she was in the middle of laughing —God that laugh. She was all skinned knees and honey brown eyes. How can someone be so beautiful?
She was summer in the palm of my hand, all fluid liquid that burned my tongue, challenging the power of the sun. She was a pyromaniac, looking for her next match and there was me, shyly eager in my willingness to act as tribute. Do with me what you please.
No structure she emulated a thing of nature Making me as aware of the purples, blues, yellows, and pinks above me and the textures beneath my fingertips as I was of her. We mirrored each other, what was hers was mine. Together we were unknowingly and absolutely human Is that alright with you?
I learned quickly that she was something gentle, something that you made sure not to bruise. Our shared seconds were occupied in the matter of hiding, saving our whispers for lonely moments. Summer heat, mise en scène, her hand in mine exploring where our ends met and our beginnings intertwined. Being soft, eyelashes on skin making sure not to press so hard as to leave a bruise.
And that first kiss? A splash that covered, enveloped me in an ocean of blue. She taught me how to swim. Her lips were so soft, like the lilac streak found on the edge of— well, don’t worry about it. The air was so quiet, still, turning yellow at the fringes and drowning us in our own breathing —she said I tasted like apples. We always made sure not to bite so hard as to leave a bruise. This is not a love poem.
We knew this wasn’t allowed. Wasn’t supposed to be: “This isn’t some fucking movie.” We must have realized that pretending to be something we weren’t when other people were around would fall through eventually Because I remember when that knock on the door jolted us out of our dreaming. Her father’s best preaching voice sending white lightning, now panic, through me, saying it was time for me to go. Why?
After that, she wore bruises like a watercolor canvas. Across her knuckles, her face. Someone was not as careful as I had been. Someone had the privilege of holding her in their hand and abused it. You should have seen her apologetic eyes, those honey brown eyes, somehow turned into clouds sick with black rain Offering only searing pain, hot-white lightning, accompanied with the whisper of, “My mother has threatened to tell your parents if we keep doing this,” escorted by the beat of a combined rush through our veins— What is “this”?
Well. Roses are red Violets are blue My Dear, didn’t you know? Bruises are too.
Love is not born from bruises; it is killed, and these words cannot revive it or bring it back. The past is gone, inaccessible. This is not a love poem.
This is a letter.
To my Younger Self: Please remember to be gentle. Please remember you will be alright. Please forget how the colors of her skin matched the bleeding plum of the shifting afternoon light.
she, her, hers
McIntire School of Commerce
Class of 2020, Marketing & Management
Digital Media & Advertising Track
Lee transferred to U.Va. in her third-year from Northern Virginia Community College, and immediately became involved in as many creative endeavors as she could, with poetry being the main thing that stuck. Writing “Bruises” was a project inspired by memories of her first relationship (and first love), which was inevitably tied to her realization that she is very very queer. Growing up in a hyper-religious household and community, she used to pray that her feelings and thoughts would go away; if not for her sake, then for the sake of the people she fell for. While “Bruises” does not address religion outright, it does discuss violence and homophobia found in family members. Writing this ultimately offered her a sense of closure to a time dichotomously characterized by love and constant anxiety—something many others in the LGBTQ+ community have faced in similar ways. She's doing very nicely now, though, and has since come out to her sister, who reacted with nothing but support and kindness. Lee's biggest inspiration in writing comes from poets such as Anne Carson (see: The Glass Essay) and Danez Smith, as well as more visual pursuits such as photography and sketching. She's also very involved in Queer life on grounds, and you can probably find her napping in the QC on any given day.