unexpected intrusions of beauty
She does not remember the first time she encounters the word ‘beautiful.’ In hindsight, she imagines that it must have come embedded in the pages of a book, tucked into sentences like words between the lips of lovers who have learned to promise without speaking. She reads the word over and over again in fairy tales and tragedies and love scenes she is too young to understand as vulgar, but she can never piece together its meaning. She thinks of beautiful as an amalgamation of literary intoxications like worthwhile and lovable and pretty. She imagines it spilling from the mouth of her father like a chant so old, it is visible in the palm lines of the Earth — beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
She grows up and watches fairy tales become the stuff of parodies and tragedies become trendy and learns that love scenes are sometimes anything but. Beautiful, she learns, is a conditional. She is beautiful if she passes the test, and she is beautiful if she fucks the boy, and she is beautiful if she sucks in her stomach on the days she can feel her insecurity exploding under her ribs. Beautiful is a literary intoxication she can never feel drunk off of, because that would require it to be in her blood.
There is no beautiful in her blood, but she begins to see the word everywhere else, as if surrounding herself will allow it to seep into her skin. Beautiful is poetry dripping from the humidity in the air on summer nights. Beautiful is the coldness when every breath blooms in front of her eyes like a burden lifted. Beautiful is autumn leaves going limp like the wrists of people who have forgotten how to hold their sadness. The word spills from her mouth like a chant. Mountains splitting sky and teaching Earth that it’s okay to be broken sometimes — beautiful; loneliness on nights when holding her hand is not enough to hold her together — beautiful; fairy tales and tragedies and love scenes in a time when their words still danced like naiveté through her veins — beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, like the hope that one day the chant will seep into her palm lines and finally leave her intoxicated.