dear universe (a manifesto)

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Dear Universe, I want a full-time teaching job and at least two closets in my apartment and a complete understanding of the difference between effect and affect.

That time I asked my students to stare at each other for sixty seconds (insert laughter, discomfort and a continuous need to look away) and my student, who tried so hard to share his eyes with me, kept whispering how hard it is to look at someone who isn’t speaking. And when we shared our experiences afterward, I asked him the color of my eyes; he said silver. Dear Universe, I want to see the shiny in me too.

Dear Universe, when did you tell me that none of this would end, that brains congeal and there is only so much a scalpel can remove?

Dear Universe, I haven’t quite mastered the pronunciation of marriage and have decided to live alongside the Hadza to learn the importance of telling time through the movement of sky. Maybe I prefer monogamy with things that glow like Lyra or birds with indigestion.

I used to collect ants; scooped them up like cake crumbs and spelled out prayers with their slow-moving bodies. Dear Universe, can religion be that simple?

Dear Universe, when my ribs were the only cage I climbed into. Yes, can we go back to that?

One night when I ran out of things to hold, I gulped down enough street signs to make me feel like I understood what I was doing. Cut my tongue on their sharp edges and I still got lost. Dear Universe, my belly contains a GPS but it always brings me back to where I am afraid of going.

Dear Universe, there is a mouse living inside my oven, so I haven’t cooked anything proper in months. I rolled up a poem and set it on fire hoping the ashes of words would lead it elsewhere. Like that time I read Vera Pavlova and she led me out of that mental hospital. Sometimes we just need an extra map to free ourselves from borrowed kilns or bone breaks.

I want a backyard to plant dandelions and hyaloclastite. Universe, can you give me some land to roam against?

Somehow my wrists slipped their way out of midnight and I am collecting sharps again. Like a brushfire. Like a tic-tac toe board of blood and guts. Dear Universe, I don’t need any more band-aids; it’s surgery time.

Remember when guns sprayed water instead of organs? I left the country of my body because my passport expired and I lost the code to get in. Dear Universe, can you leave the back door open?



Aimee Herman is the author of meant to wake up feeling (great weather for MEDIA, 2014).