The Indicator x The Student: “How to Fall in ROT”

Originally published in the Fall 2023 edition of The Indicator, this poem by Grace Escoe ’26 explores mental health and its deceptive relationship to love.

The Indicator x The Student: “How to Fall in ROT”
Grace Escoe ’26 calls on the word “rot” to investigate mental health in this poem from The Indicator’s Fall 2023 issue. Art courtesy of Evelyn Chi ’25.

I am not ashamed

That I have not known much intimacy

That I never had a hand that fit the curvature of my own

That I never had someone whisper my name

Like they owned it

In a way that sent hairs standing

And goosebumps on the back of my neck

Or at least I thought

You see I never knew their names until recently

I did not realize I got lost in them all along

That they are the ones who held my head in their laps

Who caught my tears

Even if they caused them

Who listened to my tiniest thoughts


I did not realize I had played Russian Roulette with depression

We skated across ice thin enough to see the current below

Shivers dancing across my shoulders

Danger leaning in

Their breath on the back of my neck

Almost exhilarating

As if you could feel the biting cold

At the thought of the tide

Our love was a circus

But I craved the adrenaline that came on the tightrope

They promised to catch me

But I knew all too well

Falling leads to something else completely

Even though the sliver of sanity

Would send shocks of fear down my arms

The darkness seemed all too comforting

Soon I tired from running

From balancing on tightropes

From racing down ice before it cracked

From squeezing the trigger one more time


All anxiety left me

Is a sore jaw

Too easy to resist

Something that always left me craving more

Left me grasping for just one more bite

Another bite that stretched

The bounds of pain

We would spend nights staring at the sky

Neither able to sleep

Anxiety was all too good at reminiscing

Memories like stars

Too many to count

Creating swirling constellations

A whirlpool

I got lost in the pools of thoughts

Submerged by ideas

I drown

Deeper than you could ever imagined


I fell all too quickly for panic attacks

The disillusionment I felt

Often took me days to come back from

As the things people named an attack

I found all too welcoming

It took the breath right out of me

Too stunned to speak at their appearance

It was as if my life depended on them

They welcomed me all too frequently

They were all consuming

All I could think of was them

And when they left

It was if I had fallen out of love

I spent my adolescence love lost in my own mind

Time cashed in on lonely memories

Because as with all infatuations

They faded

Things started to deteriorate all too quickly

My skin started to melt at the idea of them

I could not last

What I thought was intimacy

What I thought was love

All too quickly spelled out rot