The virtue of mildness

Clare Gower
1 min readApr 1, 2020

I nearly look at you as I describe the fault lines beneath my skin — pale and stretched tightly like gauze.

I’m still unsure of what I’m saying, like I’m speaking with a thick felt tip pen. A sip of water and ‘I don’t know’ excuses me from the conversation for the duration of a semitone–long enough to break the tension of a Big Question, or to playfully bite you with my wit. Or until I pretend I’ve forgotten the question anyway.

Because honesty is the best policy, implores the towering matron with the wagging finger, but the chalk board doesn’t instruct how to accept bad news with DIGNITY.

It’s crossed arms and cement in your throat; the humiliation of a tightrope and the white hot static of a Jack-o’-lantern.

Do I offer myself up on a cross, nails hammered pitifully through my palms and the syrupy sweetness of honeysuckle blistering my skin, or do I attempt grace? A humble acronym.

I make geometric shapes around the room. A triangle on the bed. A pyramid on the floor. Strung tightly like a piano string, fingers smoothing the scar on my knee.

I want to put my fist through your fucking mirror! Why am I even here in your stupid fucking dominion anyway–

“But yeah. I understand. I’m sorry, too.”