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Suicide Note Number One

Dear Johns,

I can’t love you: Desert. Toad. Tyrant. Temptor. Dung.

You can’t love me: goddess, witch, whore, madonna, love. A reminder. A commodity. An oddity. A life line. A river. An ocean. An oak tree. A spruce tree. Magnolia. Mammy. An embarrassment.

For all your lust and money. I will die. I, unlovable; and yet you loved me. In the dark. Where priests can’t see. I was the guilt, the sin. The desire. The breast. The milk. The honey. The choke cherry

running into the light, into the day of new beginnings. To be shunned. To be patronized. To be pacified. To be abused. To be rebuked. To be invisible.

my vulnerability desired, yet despised. Not to be claimed by you who need me, you who love me, you who hate me. I am secret love. I am other.

I am need. Righteous and ready. I have a name.

I will die by my own hand because love excuses the illiterate, the color blind. History burns me, spurns me, chattels me. You can’t slice deep enough. The knife slips. Menstrual blood frightens you. My breath, sweet as wintergreen, frightens you.

Arrogance is your escape.

Don’t talk to me. Love me in secret. I will hold your secrets between my eyes, until I die. Ahhh, men, so afraid, of not being perfect. I exist to resist


My gravestone already marked beloved.

You who love me can’t escape

and will return. Age makes me ever more lovely. My words will save me. I am too old, now, to bleed.

I apologize for my life, my youth, your religion.

I apologize to mothers and sons.

To die is to grieve is to mourn is to resurrect is to forgive is to know
there are the ones who will miss me, who will
bring me back.

© Sherry Quan Lee from How to Write A Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life

How to Revise A Rough Draft

It’s time to stop writing suicide notes.
Time to stop saying goodbye.
Time to stop killing

I have been waiting since birth to live.

Not to be buried in the womb, nor hidden outside the body,
but to beat inside the heart, my heart, your heart
regularly, rhythmically, confidently.

It is time to stop running.
Stop killing the messenger.

I am not the messenger.
(Why did I ever think I was?)

I was the mother of grief, the crying woman. The listener. The comforter. The healer.

No, that is someone else’s story.

I was the judge, the jury, the prison guard.
Righteous, not right.
I threw love out with each new lover

ran from my own convictions. Marathon lover, I ran. Exhausting
the ego and the id. Trying to save myself
from my self-


Halleluja. Glory! Halleluja! I live.

I could have been buried in someone else’s story. Lived someone else’s life.
Dummied down, never looked up.

The blue spruce were locked on one man’s island.
Each pine tree needled with dark secrets.
His and mine.

No, I don’t love you; I need you.

Need sucks like a baby on her mother’s empty breast. Here, take mine. And he did.

And, I let you

last in a series of decade long serial saviors. Loneliness would have killed me deader
than abuse.

Then I took me back.

I can count them. Women and men and houses and jobs and friends.
See them disappear.
No memory.

I spewed them out like a devil woman. Mad woman. Mean woman.
Pounded my fists and weakened my lungs.

How to separate the evil from the good.
How to separate the need from the love.
How to know the monsters from the angels.
How to know the ending from the beginning, life from death.

How to revise a rough draft and make your writing, your life better.

© Sherry Quan Lee from How to Write A Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life