Reject for Life

5th and 6th graders
reek of cruelty. The thoughtless
beasts circulate fatty jokes
and ugly jokes as if they were oxygen.
Friendships dissolve
with the erasing of a name. The friend list
passed from grubby hand to greasy
head and my name becomes a smudge
on the page. It floats on the ceiling fans
until the rejects snatch it from the air.
I tumble into the reject room at camp,
reject group on the playground. Reject
this, reject that, reject everywhere I go; perpetually
trapped in the nameless zone.

One reject roommate strips
to her whitey tighties exposing the small apples
on her chest. She crawls into the bed
we share and my blankets fall limp
onto my new bed; the spiked carpet.
Or the roomie who freezes in 70° weather,
creating a sweat lodge of our room. Said girl
hissing and stomping once the thermostat
collapses below 85°. Rejects schooled me
in aloneness. How to cope with my best friend
ditching the plains we existed on.

5th and 6th grade.
The years that broke me. The torrent
of C’s flowing home to my parents, the first
steps to theft, dread of swerving loyalties.
Turning around life and setting it to spin, to cut
out the short strings and replace them
with wires. Never again
will I ram my body into the stack of glass
that looms in front of my door. No longer
will I fall fissured and jagged
to the earth. They are the years to be
proved wrong. Show the hoards
of unrejected I survived. I thrived.

The sweat lodge melted me from the savage
you created; the blundering baby
soaked in my own sorrows, the loneliest
loner. I am no longer afraid
of those shriveled loyalties, though slow
to friendship I am quick to love. I soak
in the criticism your sour breath
beaded on me. Absorbing in the
“you’re ugly’s” and “you’re annoying’s”
until they overflowed the barrels. Your voices
became muddled and confused, spouting
lies to raise your ego by deflating
my balloon. My shelf has been dusted
and my balance returned. I stand on two feet
instead of knees. Those years
were your golden years, but mine
are yet to come.

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