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  You could have a big dipper   

The Other Side of a Closed Door by Sam Toggas

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.

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