To Whom This May Concern.

 By Kira Autumn.

“Death feels to me like Valentine’s candy and creamy coffee. Today is February fourteenth, and here I am, indulging.” 

Reflections by Sofia Zubi.

To Whom This May Concern:


A. When I die, I hope to have my journals with me. I hope my cubicle at the hospital is full of artwork and life and love. A boy I work with at Trader Joe’s asks me how I can be intimate with a space and not consume it, and not be consumed by it. It’s eat or be eaten, and I am reporting to you from inside the blue whale.


I am having a good week. I tell this to my therapist, Nancy, with both pride and caution, as if she might say, Are you just saying that to me so I don’t worry? and she does.  I have been her client for five months, and she has been nudging me toward new medication for four.  She says that five bad days out of seven is a concern for anyone, but two good days are better than none and I’m a glass-half-full type of girl.


B.   The first time I let a boy into my body, I asked him if he found everything he needed today. It was the summer after high school, the summer spent smoking joints on the bathroom floor and covering my room with oil pastel drawings. I met him on the first day of college and his sweat reminded me of watercolor. His hands felt strong and flexible on the Tuesday morning that it happened. I was wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and khaki pants and gold earrings his hair kept pulling at. He tasted like cigarettes and growing up. I soaked up my new adulthood as he ghosted me, not caring that he liked me only when I was high, summer-stained and fuckable. FUCKBOY is a boy with beautiful green eyes and fingers of broken hearts. I confess this encounter to my mother in the emergency room two weeks later. She tells me, it’s okay. It’s okay. Sleep until it’s over.


Death feels to me like Valentine’s candy and creamy coffee. Today is February fourteenth, and here I am, indulging. I am talking to a new girl and she tastes like geranium and rose. I have heart shaped jellybeans in the pocket of my cargo pants these days. My bedroom hyacinths died last week and I watered them until yesterday. Long after the last petals wilt, after they stop responding to my despondent motherhood, I applaud them with torrents from the faucet and they don’t come back to life. I replace the hyacinths with orchids and pretend that I’m not just mimicking the before-care.


C.  Sometimes you will live through something only to come out and have to live through something else. Every time I look in the mirror it’s Lady Macbeth, the two of us have never been clean, cannot get clean, and here it is now: The next damn thing. This thing: You have been discharged from the mental hospital and now your country is warring. You have been discharged from the mental hospital, and now you don’t know what to say to your father but you have his rain-jacket. You have been discharged from the mental hospital, and now you are too drugged to say no to sex. You are too drugged to notice your clothes have been pulled aside until it’s too late, he’s inside you already, so you lay there like roadkill, all thighs and blood and handprints, until he’s finished and he leaves, and you’re still there, dead on the street-side. You have been discharged from the mental hospital. Now what?


Fact: I keep the relics of my relationships and friendships in my bottom dresser drawer and my mother thinks it compromises my wellness. If my mother was queer, she would advise me not to keep the poetry book my ex-girlfriend gave me for my  seventeenth birthday in the backseat of my car. Something about not letting old spirits fester. I don’t know. The book is called Notes on Shapeshifting and its nuance was lost on me then, but now I feel the stanzas blinking in amusement as I drive thirty thousand miles and pull into the same conclusion I’ve reached thirty thousand times. Nancy asks me every week if I like myself. This Monday, I tell her that I haven’t smiled since it started raining all those weeks ago. My best friend lets me know that the groundhog predicts spring will come soon, and urges me to hang on for six more weeks. I can’t believe that my suicidality is fated by a fucking groundhog, but here we are. In the evenings, I remember that the spring equinox has already passed in Israel, and that in Gaza, there is no spring.


D.  I refuse the next three men who apply to sleep in my bed. Sex is just sound escaping. I try to forget September’s midnight in my roommate’s car, I’m here to check in to the psychiatric ward gliding from my mouth as smoothly as if I had asked for the bathroom. They take me into the back room because they know that by this statement I am also saying, I have given up. I have given up but I promised my mother that I would be alive come summer. They take my statement and my blood and my clothes and my phone, I beg for my journal and somehow receive it with a safety pen so that I can experience the hellspital and regurgitate it with prettier words. There are so many problems involved with living long enough to celebrate the summer solstice. I would rather swallow fire than suffer through the longest day of the year. There’s one more statement: I have given up, but out of spite I do not want to die. Letters swim and pirouette around me but they only catch me when I’m sleeping. I replace their words with ones I like. Volatile : vivacious, Bipolar : artistic, Flighty : good at cardiovascular exercise.


In the next months, I learn the right way to be a teenage girl. I find out what it means to feel ugly and call out of work, to feel beautiful and walk on water. I learn how to stare in the bathroom mirror at all my ghosts, pounded together into one, to allow them to scream until they settle. I learn how to be grateful for being crisp and clean and eighteen. I drive out as the sun begins to set, under the gaze of streetlights gasping in and out as the sky brightens.

The Blood Pudding – June 26, 2024

Kira Autumn is an eighteen year old nonbinary poet from New Jersey. Their work has been published in Power Poetry’s Collection of Emerging Poets, Eber & Wein Publishing’s Quilted Memoirs, (forthcoming) The Closed Eye Open’s Issue XI, and more. Their first chapbook, titled Don’t Wait Too Long, I Love You, showcases their struggle to navigate bipolar I disorder.


Artwork: Sofia Zubi is an artist, illustrator, and author currently based between New York and New Jersey. The subject of Sofia’s work has been both personal and symbolic, inspired by actual experiences and dreams. Sofia started her visual diary series in 2013, during her studies at Pratt Institute. Her body of work has since evolved into a narrative journey, illustrating the Princess as an illusive spectacle of herself. Sofia’s drawings and paintings tell stories through invented and historical symbolism, examining portals of literature, philosophy, and multicultural folktales. You can find her work here.