I don’t have to write about what came after.
I didn’t think you’d ever hurt me, back when you’d stroke my hair and kiss my face in your low white bed,
But then again, I didn’t think
You’d be dreaming of licking red wine, yeasty
All old, all bloody
Off her lips, either.
Some mornings, still, in the winter, I stand
in little white cotton panties like I wore when I was five,
examining my face hard in the mirror, unblinking.
I want to bleach my hair an unholy platinum,
shed my sheep’s clothing,
go out into the white light of January, hollering and howling.
I don’t have to write about what came after,
how I lit a circle of candles on the floor and laid down next to them
thinking Oh if you could see me now, blazing
with anger but holding it back.
No sense in breaking all the dishes.
What’d you eat off of?
Oh, if you could see me now.
A fingernail, scratching at grout.
Bathroom walls that don’t get clean no matter
How much I spent on Amazon buying new chemicals.
I shred my nails down to bloody little stubs, if left to my own devices.
“Don’t look at me,” my hands say.
“I’m bleeding all over the place.”
You split my skin,
I am saving the poems in my phone. You save them in your head, and you breathe them out when we sleep, so only I can hear.
“What was lost/must now be found,” says your breath. In and out, regular as a metronome. I’m awake and hear it all. Your chest rising and falling, your funny little heart shivering. You woke up one night and sprinted down your humid hallway with your heart raging in your chest, and I counted to ten, twenty, thirty before you came back, white like my sheets.
Sick in bed, I spin circles the way my dad used to out in the field, around and around. As a child, I always insisted on wearing a dress when I’d go ride along, and the wheat would bite and scratch at my little legs where I’d left the skin exposed.
They always told me to cover up just in case.
I plow through piles of magazines, scroll through endless streams of Twitter, looking for something. I can never figure out just what it is I want. I’m looking for it, and I can’t find it in glossy pages or newsfeeds.
“Lauren Conrad is a REDHEAD!” They chatter. “See her GORGEOUS ring!”
There is no more silence left here, not in this room. I fill it up. Cheeping voices from @handles. Facebook posts lambasting presidents and showing off stepping stones, I bought a house! I had a kid! I ate this pizza! There is no more silence. The radio’s on all day. My brain’s a wash of noise, and the radiators clatter along in time.
I think maybe it’s time to give up writing on the Internet. I think maybe it’s time to go vegetarian. I think maybe it’s time to stop drinking. I rumble around with every self-improvement I can think of until I find some that fit.
John burns the cardigan on a Sunday, a cold day in the spring – not July, like the Dixie Chicks song.
Amy and I sit on the picnic table and watch, knowing that with each flick of his cigarette, he felt sadder and sadder. We’d already deleted the sweater’s former owner from our lives and our Facebooks, and we didn’t want to talk.
He holds it out and stares at it, its cobwebby design of cat hair, all flammable, and then he sets it on fire, touching just the tip of a lighter to its sleeve.
It spreads so fast I barely have time to blink. “Don’t let it touch the grass,” I say. I have flashes of igniting our old brownstone. He sets it on the sidewalk and it shrivels up just like all that shit he’d felt. We didn’t have time for love then.
An old couple across the street watches him, questions in their eyes.
“Stomp it out,” I say. I’d learned that on children’s TV, hazy and sleepy on a post-nap couch.
The fire goes out after awhile. He brings the sweater to the table, and we examine its holes. No one speaks until I say, “I’m cold,” and go inside. I don’t know how long he sits there, because I’m upstairs.
In bed with you, I whisper,
Please, please, please.
Please haunt me when you die.
I am a carnivorous little beast,
cracking your spine and sucking up the marrow.
You scrub out my insides.
I Clorox the sheets.
And everything I’ve ever wanted
explodes right there in my hands.
featured image — @kirillvasilevcom