Instead I Propose a Toast

Meeah Williams

306 words
Content Warnings: mention of suicide

I, too, grew up in the shadow of dominance
during the reign of fear
I did what I was told
I was whoever they said I was
I pressed a boy’s mask to my face
so tight
so long
there is nothing behind it now that I’ve peeled it away
but the look of a child stunned
old beyond her years


It’s too late for me now to speak to you
convincingly of the beauty of life
the grace of others
I’ve been hurt & hurt myself too much
too long
grown too deformed
I came alive too late
& too awkwardly
& too much by accident
to give you any reliable directions
to your destination
to proffer any advice
on how to survive
without causing you more pain
than I know how to carry


Instead I propose a toast
before we part company from this poem—
a toast to us.


Pour yourself a glass of cold water
cold as you can make it
then stand outside of wherever you are
preferably somewhere you can see the sky
no matter how small a piece is still visible to you
& drink that water slowly
as slowly as you can
drink it while imagining yourself dying
of thirst in a desert of which you can see no end
& while you drink envision a mirage
of the most audacious thing
you’ve ever wanted to do
the thing you tell yourself is next to impossible
& that you laugh at yourself for still wanting
when you aren’t crying for its absence
& with that mirage fixed firmly on the vanishing point
of your mind’s eye
start walking, don’t think,
just walk
& while you’re walking sing to yourself
sing to yourself the only promise you ever need to keep:
that ending your life
will always be the second thing
you ever do.

Meeah Williams’s work has appeared in Otoliths, Phantom Drift, Uut, The Conium Review, Per Contra, Petrichor Review, Stone Highway Review, Dirty Chai, Shuf, *82 Review, Skin to Skin, Wilde, The Milo Review, Gone Lawn, Meat for Tea, Angry Old Man, The Ginger Collect, Former Cactus, Anti-Heroin Chic and others. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Hank, and her cat, Juliette Hattie Snowpea.