The Future Perfect

Becca Edwards

618 words
Content Warnings: suicide, self-harm, New Year's resolutions

When I write this poem a year from now
I will not want to kill myself
I know this because a day before I write this poem
I will have wanted to
but this will serve as mandatory procrastination
And three days after I write this poem
I will feel embarrassed that I had to
but I will be patient with that feeling
because ultimately it means there is a me
who cannot even imagine my current state
and would not associate with someone who thinks of me
as someone not worth saving
(I envy whoever that will be)

I will have gone through the woods with Jane
finding witch snot and lichen
admiring the work of its guardian spirit,
a dog who watches us calmly but barks when I try to take a mushroom
this dog must have been the one
who chopped thick vines to save trees from strangles
were they the one who laid out the bamboo path?
familiar ax marks on a bamboo cup holding rain water
I will have imagined a tiny frog inside
Jane will have told me about a time she found a tiny frog
the tiniest she had ever seen
that is the whole story
I will have loved this story

I will have made something I barely remember making
because its bookend weeks drowned in a swamp
my alchemical how as much a mystery
as watching a squirrel on a tree
and willing it to move
sometimes the squirrel does move
(but you know, there's more than one way to make a squirrel move if that's all I have to do)
(so to speak)
A year from now when I write this poem i will have wished for a more nuanced metaphor
but feel the need to move on for now

Two years from now when I write this poem it will be harder it will be easier
than these, which couldn't have been as hard as easy as that one will have been
someone else is the one who knows how to make herself move squirrels
not me, not now, my fingers don't move my fingers
well, except to write this poem again
well isn't that something isn't that harder easier than
pouring a glass of water when I know I'm thirsty but my body drowned in a swamp
i could not possibly stand
i will never have been able to write at least this one poem
every year
even just this one poem
harder softer than water

Assertion: there is some real number N such that N years from now
I will not have written this poem
I will have done something else
I will have loved myself like a cat falls on their feet
I will have found my body in the swamp
I will have fixed my fingers
and this poem in a pile of papers
will nearly get thrown away
for taking up space unneeded clearly it is easy now to get out of bed forever
[a squirrel outside laughs at this notion]
[i cuss at the squirrel]
[it skitters away]
[i throw the crumpled poem at the trash can]
[slap dust off hands satisfied]
[it rolls around the rim several times]
[bounces in]
[bounces out]
[ping pongs about the room making cartoon sound effects]
[knocking all the art i've made in the year since i stopped writing this poem to the ground]
[piece by piece, with perfect comedic timing]
[the crumpled paper shrinks itself down on the final bounce and disappears into
the cigarette burns on my thighs]
Well isn't that something, I will have said, shrugging
See you next year!

Becca Edwards lives in Atlanta with her cat Keaton. She primarily works in music and art communities, but occasionally returns to her first love: writing. She is incredibly fond of small queer narrative games, flower arrangements, and alternatives to capitalism.