There is a phenomenon that occurs in the vast, deep emptiness of space
where gravity becomes so strong that it collapses in on itself, implodes.
And in its descent into nothingness, it pulls every surrounding piece of matter and light
down with it
and sucks it up into oblivion
And you are barely seven years old when you trip on the playground, and you look over at your uncle, fat tears
welling in your little doe eyes as you wait for his comfort
It doesn’t come
You taste the tears as they drip-drip-drop perfect little circles onto the woodchips beneath the monkey
bars Your uncle looks at your red, puffy seven-year-old face and tells you to suck it up.
Time and space expands, and a child grows up
Playground injuries are replaced by invisible wounds, little scars from harsh words that are forgotten but not
quite healed as the years pass
And somewhere in the vast, deep emptiness of middle school, there is a girl hiding in the bathroom,
wishing she could descend into nothingness, staring into the mirror until she can magically change what
she sees gazing back
Because someone told her that some parts of her are too big, and others too small, and none quite right.
And there is plenty of oxygen in that middle school bathroom, individual molecules of air infused with cheap
perfume and sweat and far too much Axe body spray,
but there is a black hole opening in her lungs, and no matter how hard she tries to take in that sweet, sweet
oxygen, she cannot manage to
suck it up
There is a point when toughing it out when the going gets tough
allows unhealed wounds to become death by a thousand cuts
You take one too many hits and something shatters within you, and shards of glass cut your insides to pieces
Suck it up
and keep smiling, keep scribbling out pages upon pages of English assignments like your life depends on it,
Because if you take away the wisecracks, and the knee slaps, and the clever words that impress people
before they can think to be concerned, what’s left?
Nights where your roughly chewed down nails carve crescent moons into your legs
and you pray for a sinkhole to open right there on your floor of clothe-covered
carpet that can take all the hurt and the sensitivity and the jittery, jumpy energy—
everything about you that’s just a little too much— and suck it up.
Suck it up
Suck it up
Suck it up.
It becomes a mantra, those three little words
Because when you have nothing else, you still have that: your
You still have that power, the ability to make letters dance with a wave of your hand
To move mountains and part oceans
to tell a story no one’s heard
You have the same twenty-six letters as everyone else, but you-
You make them mean something
You can make them magical
When you have nothing else, you have that
So you stand on stage to tell your stories with nothing to hide behind
but your gilded words, the rawest parts of your soul brought to life by the ink of your pen
Pain and euphoria and divine inspiration turned into a performance piece before your tears even dried,
salty stains marring the page where you picked yourself apart from the inside out
You spill your secrets to strangers with sleek, silver-lined stanzas
And they sit and snap, enraptured by your pretty
language And they Suck. It. Up.