September 2017

by Gray Bulla

a poem about glass

Background photograph by Carla Ciuffo

How many bottles did you smash before
you cut your hand? I want to know how
long it’d take to count the pieces. I want
to know how many of those you emptied
yourself and how much money you poured
down the drain.

I want to know what you named your first
car (and your second and your third and
your eighth) and if any of your heartbreaks
ever shared their names.

Did you ever convince him to do it?
The answer will never matter to them
anyway; it was only blame they wanted.

I want to know if flying through your
windshield felt the same as smashing
those bottles and if it did why you
would have ever stopped;

if the shards
stuck in your teeth tasted anything like
stepping barefoot around the kitchen
floor;

if the red flashing of a police car
that night could ever compare to the
way the skin of your index finger split
open in slow motion, left alone to heal
itself.

Did the sweat drip into your eyes
that night, or did your vision blur
for something else?

Did you get the chance to apologize for
their broken mailbox? Or for the afternoon
traffic you caused?

Pick up the bottles
and try just to breathe.

Photograph by Deborah Bulla

Gray is the 2017 Nashville Youth Poet Laureate and a student at Nashville School of the Arts. Learn more at southernword.org.

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