You Should Know

Mar 1, 2024 | 2024 Spring - Letters to Myself

By Syd Shaw

To be careful. I could tell you not to date that man at 20, not to kiss that girl at 16, at least not where your parents will see. I can tell you that their opinions won’t matter, not forever at least. I could give you a new name—new pronouns, even. I could tell you what to change your major to, when to move, and when to stay put, whom to keep writing letters to even when they don’t respond for a while. 

I could lay out your life like a delicate spider web or a map of invading armies. Try to choreograph and plan for you: speak at this moment; don’t cry after this one. I could scare you like they do in the DARE programs. 

But how do I untangle the was from the could be? That’s the problem with time travel: you never know who you are when you get back. Which strand, brushed out of your face, would cause the whole thing to unravel. So I let the fates weave their web. With equal parts heartbreak and hope, I watch my younger self in silence.

Syd Shaw writes about love, witchcraft, and body horror. She is Assistant Poetry Editor and Workshop Coordinator at Passengers Journal, and a typewriter poet with West Hollywood’s Pride Poets group. She has a degree in Creative Writing from Northwestern University.

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