Bitter is Perfect

By: Brooke Shippee

Bitter is the sound of hearing rejection
two weeks before the Prom,
of hearing you’ll expire within months,
of hearing the sickening squeal of tires beneath the floorboards
in your car.

It is the metallic taste of blood and bile
after you tumble from the pyramid of cheerleaders,
and it is the twinge of guilt you get
when you cheat on an algebra test.

It is the voice on the other end of the line,
calmly whispering,
”You’re not that pretty. You’re not that special.”
It is the force that tugs on your heart
as you drown your sorrow behind the spray of the shower.

Bitter is the astringent you gladly douse in your wounds,
the salt that you rub into your skin
when you are called things like stupid or crazy,
and it is what you blame
when life does not come out how it was planned in your calendar.

It is the fat, heartsick wallow you feel at five years old
as your parents drive away on the first day
and leave you behind to fend for yourself
amongst the throes of grade school.

Bitter is the driving force behind all of your actions
and you like how it stings.
All the while,
a little part of you takes pleasure knowing that
if bitter won today,
sweet will win tomorrow.

Bitter is what gives you hope and strength and buoyancy.
It is what turns tomorrow into a piece of honeyed candy,
bubbling up past the guilt and anger that bitter has built for

And when all is said and done,
you emerge someplace burnt in honesty.
All the while,
a little part of you takes pleasure knowing that
is perfect.