The Mania in the Ritual

poetry by Courtney Peters

The Mania in the Ritual

I practice self-love the way I practice self-loathing

                Manically, and never at the correct time.

 

I pluck the pulp from myself and strain all of the best parts

until all that remains is the perfect concentration of Nothing.

                I am glassy and composed, until someone shifts the table.

 

I thought I knew how to hate myself.

I starved myself for three days for the promise of daintier hands.

But my fingernails grew back,

and my fingerprints stayed the same size

No matter how many times I mangled them to pray.

 

I thought I knew how to love myself.

I kept every flea that bounced from my mind and made me itch at night

Trained them to be part of a circus that only practiced affirmations.

But I forgot to punch holes in the lid of the jar

And you can only blow fire until the air runs out.

 

I tried to reconfigure myself once.

Pushed every organ inside of me around in an attempt to be small.

Perhaps if I was so tiny god might forget that I even exist.

But he found me in a phone booth clutching lost connection,

        Turns out he was out of quarters, too.

 

I practice self-love the way I practice self-loathing

                Ritualistically, and brick by brick.

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Courtney Peters

Courtney Peters is a student, poet, and community servant currently living in Greensboro, North Carolina. She writes poetry to understand things that have happened or why things haven't happened. Most of her inspiration comes from her personal traumas and her Czech father with a melting brain. At any given moment you can find her with her dog, talking about crocodiles, or buying a new ficus.