BY KAT TAN
that she tried very hard to forget and in fact thought she had forgotten only those bullies broke that part of her brain too the part that wore round glasses and brightly patterned cotton scarves and muttered under its breath mm hm mm hm as it shuffled and reshuffled all those lovely chapter books in all those Koa wood shelves that stretched from freshly vacuumed navy blue carpets skyward so now all the books have tumbled down and disappeared the carpet into a blanket of ripped out pages and that part of her brain has been quite scrambled since the day that memory was zapped into monstrous life like Frankenstein had been only she can’t put her finger on how that story actually went since she read it quite some time before the day those bullies sliced her up into 5 servings per container and opened their mouths wide because the serving size they cut for themselves was quite large and she rather thought they bit off more than they could chew since the taste of her made their stomachs twitch and they went running and told the rest of the school how she had made them sick and the rest of the kids said really and tried a bite themselves some found her too fibrous for their liking and others had an underdeveloped taste for protein on young women and yet others only nibbled because they were aspiring anorexics who refused anything that yielded over two hundred and fifty calories but some kids had such a sweet tooth that they actually came back for seconds and in no time she was little more than crumbs but still the bullies weren’t fed so they took her bones and ground them into fine powder that if analyzed was 75 percent pure calcium and fortified their nerve even better than milk could so the bullies started spreading rumors about why she had so many bites taken out of her and she tried to stop them saying look how many mouths I’ve fed how many people I’ve nourished how many bellies I’ve warmed but some jealous old boyfriend had swallowed her voice box sometime during one of their last kisses before they broke up a few months back and then he gave the still fluttering voice box to his new girl so the bullies were free to tell everyone that she had in fact been rotten and mushy under her rosy pretty skin and don’t we all hate it when girls like that pass themselves off as something fresh when in fact they bruised on their way to the market and she was so thoroughly sucked brittle that all she could do was listen to the bullies say this and eventually started to believe it a little and then believe it a lot that she was an expired unhappy fruit with a scrambled up brain that no one would want even for free and she was still thinking this when she got into her dream college and still thinking this as she delivered her graduation speech and still thinking this when she got on a plane and still thinking this when she unpacked her bags in an empty dorm and still thinking this when the winter melted quicker than it ever had up in the North and was in the middle of thinking this one day when her class was assigned a book called Frankenstein and she read it in a day first in her head and then out loud and now that she thinks about it wasn’t the creation called The Creature and the human called Frankenstein and wasn’t Frankenstein the villain of the book after all?
Kat Tan is a spoken word poet, wannabe-psychiatrist, activist, songwriter, reformed shy-person, cactus-enthusiast, & read-&-walk-er. She is a Robertson Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill & Duke University. Her work has appeared in The Health Humanities Journal of UNC-Chapel Hill, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, & elsewhere. She twice represented UNC at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational & was UNC’s 2017 Grand Slam Champion. Tan is the current director of the Wordsmiths of UNC-Chapel Hill & a graduate of the Yale Writers’ Conference. Every day, she falls in love with your smile. Follow her work at www.katoutofbag.com.