When I Sit With Your Troubled Mind by Allyson Whipple

I don’t know how to describe it, because all adjectives seem 

like value judgments when I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to own 

a brain that seems hell-bent on sabotage, that splits 

not just into lobes, but fractures the way skin bursts and bleeds 

when pierced by glass, the way pottery shatters on concrete, an angel 

and a devil on a shoulder, only this time there is no angel. At no point 

has there been an angel, guardian or otherwise. I will never know 

your mind the way I know the over-romanticized parts of a body: 

your lips, eyes, hands. Perhaps I should focus 

on the less-poetic body parts, the inside of the nostril, fingernail cuticles, 

beard trimmings you leave in the sink. All I really want to see 

are the scars you’ll never show me, the ones you keep hidden 

beneath facial hair, the ones you were insecure about when you were seventeen, 

but keep covered out of habit. I will go to my grave without seeing 

them. No matter how much you love me, you will never reveal 

the rewoven fibers of your skin, those supposed flaws that will never be flaws 

to me. No matter how content you are, you will never smile 

in pictures. Your mind distorts all visions of yourself. Slowly, 

you give up the secrets. You will never let me see all of your skin, 

but eventually, you will have unpacked all of your mind, set 

it out on oilcloth for me to inspect, run my hands over the hot 

spots where the manic electricity pulses, feel it cool in my hands 

as the depression sets in. I want to run my fingers along 

ridges and lines the way I read the wrinkles blossoming in the 

corners of your eyes, the way I comb my nails through 

your hair, the way if I concentrate hard 

enough, I am almost certain where the newest strands 

of grey are going to bloom.

Profile photo of Allyson Whipple

Allyson Whipple

Allyson Whipple is a student in the online MFA program with the University of Texas at El Paso. She is the author of two chapbooks: We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are (Finishing Line Press) and Come Into the World Like That (Five Oaks Press). Allyson serves as co-editor of the Texas Poetry Calendar and teaches at Austin Community College.
Profile photo of Allyson Whipple

Latest posts by Allyson Whipple (see all)

If you have enjoyed what you read, please take a second to support Inside The Bell Jar on Patreon!