At 5, my knees felt like needles,
pinned to the carpet pattern biting my skin.
My nose fixed to the cast iron vent framing
a window of what they had left.
I never had to hide to not be seen because standing
in a room with two people unloving each other was enough.
It’s not that I didn’t know what love was, I just saw them reach
for a way out more than I saw them reach for each other's hand.
Alone is what I saw them do. Outside of cars, in opposite towns, always
on the other side of a closed door. They should've known nothing living
would survive building a foundation so close to a cemetery.
At 9 I miss more sleepovers than I can count.
Not because I wanted to but because she needed me.
At 10 I start lying to see which parent breaks first.
At 13 my dad threatens full custody and my mom shows
me the bills she cannot afford. I must pick between the two.
At 13 I cannot choose because at 13 even my body doesn't feel
like my own. Maybe this was the age I fell in love with repetition,
tapping my hands against all that was unmoving just to make
sure it wasn't moving or leaving, or fleeing, or gone.
Maybe that’s why I asked for a drum set that year.
So I could learn how to use every part of my body
just to make all this leaving sound good.
Sam Toggas (she/her) is a queer welder and poet. Her work has appeared in Toho Journal and Anti-Heroin Chic. By day she is fabricating custom architectural metalwork in Philadelphia where she lives with her fianceé and two animal babies. Find her on Instagram @sam_toggas.