When I took the pass to go to the counselor
he told me to tell him everything
so I did

I told him about the ups and downs
the ins and outs
why in Ms. Rickett’s class, instead of lab, I chose instead to experiment with myself

I’ve never understood chemistry
but I decide to show up everyday
because I don’t have a scalpel at home

Slim. Sharp. Important.
in all of its sleek, silver beauty contains
my radioactive desires

I spend those fifty minutes a day
tracing elements on the periodic table with a finger
S, Am…
but IT doesn’t need to tell me
that I can’t be the same

See I don’t have a chemical formula
I don’t come in set ratios
because if I did, I wouldn’t feel sad seven and a half times more often than happy

I can’t help but envy those chemicals
unlike them, I don’t “naturally” find equilibrium
Ms. Ricketts says some chemicals are lucky enough to be amphoteric
Both acidic and basic
Maybe I am too. Sometimes sour sometimes bitter.
Just not so lucky.

Instead, I’m permanently at my boiling point
constantly shifting states
and I’m always on end
like your hair when you touch those metal balls at the science museum
but I imagine that electrons would be easier on the veins,

but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be chemistry

he tells me not to feel this way
that I have the world in the palm of my hands
but I look every day, especially in Chemistry
and I’ve never found it there

so he tells me to dig deeper
find it in myself
and now I think I understand

Tomorrow when I go to chemistry
when I’m alone with my desires
I’ll know to dig deeper
Maybe that’s what the scalpel is really for

recipient of the 1st Place Prize in Poetry at the 2015 Abydos Writing Awards

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