All my old lovers, they told me I should have come with a warning label.
Like they could have found salvation in little flames and toxic skull triangles.
I still wonder if they know corrosion and combustion are almost always reactions-
I wonder if they ever saw destruction as a product of its surroundings.
So for the safety of us both, before you call me yours, maybe you should read the fine print.
Before you kiss me like that-
Uncurl my barbed wire fingers, gently, one by one.
Melt my iron fists into open palms,
where psalms are engraved in desperation from all the lives I’ve never lived.
Learn their blind stories like a braille bible and I swear to someone’s God I’ll give you something to believe in.
Before you speak to me like that-
You should know about my allergies.
How words like ‘committed’ and ‘serious’ itch under my skin, crawling out from your throat into my bloodstream. They course through my veins and burn my eyes until I’m searching for red exit signs. They light fires on the soles of my restless feet begging me to run.
See I’m convinced the antibody is a perfect concoction of one-part distance and two-parts deflection. I’m well practiced in the art of hiding behind humor as if making you laugh could possibly mask the insecurity. I want you to know that my defense mechanisms are less about letting your best parts in and more about keeping my worst parts out.
Before you look at me like that-
Choose not to slow dance politely around the edges of all my bruises.
Learn which ones time has faded into empty craters and which ones still burn like active volcanoes.
Press on them with enough force to demand answers.
Know that if you don’t ask- I’ll never tell, because this particular world has convinced me vulnerability is nothing more than heartbreak with a Cheshire cat smile.
Before you get too comfortable-
Run your questions up and down the hills and valleys of my mind, take note of the landmarks surrounding the places where you start to lose sight of me. Memorize the corners where it gets too deep and dark, remember the route you took and should you feel me slipping, meet me there. Bring a flashlight or a lantern to hush the demons on your way, but trust in the fact I’ve been working on building my own light source for years now, one that doesn’t need the presence of someone else to chase away the shadows.
Before you ask me to open up-
Trace the bumps on my storybook spine like it’s a title you’ve been dying to read, and if you’re the type to know better than to pass judgement from cover pages then I dare you to skip to Chapter 16. See my name is lost somewhere juxtaposed between fragile and indestructible, hiding behind literary devices like life is one giant metaphor. Be patient with my words and how they only come out right on paper. Most of the time I’m just searching for the perfect simile for your smile. Right now it’s a toss-up between a starving black hole… and something like home.
So before you smile at me like that-
You should know my childish heart always got confused between wishbones and backbones. If you’re thinking you might be a hairline fracture in either, then please package me up and return to sender- because it took me 21 years to learn how to stand up for myself and I could use those 22 birthday-candle wishes this year.
Lover, before you call me yours-
I ask of you one last thing.
Please try to decode the lifelines on my hands running from pinky to thumb, for a fortune teller once told me here is where the heart and the head lines lie.
Since then I must have been getting the two catastrophically confused, because my head and my heart have never felt like they reside in the same galaxy, let alone the same body.
Half of me is convinced that the two lines will always remain in parallel, Cross-Atlantic train tracks in denial of one another.
The other half is certain that should they ever intersect they would cause nothing short of a fatal wreck, a disaster with no survivors, a complete combustion.
I’m still trying to figure out which idea terrifies me more.
I know this all sounds daunting darling,
so perhaps for now just trace each crease until you see it for what it truly is- stretched caution tape, begging to be torn down.
Decide then whether my crime scene is one you really want to share.
Chose here whether you still want to rewrite it into a masterpiece.
And when you’re done calling me yours, my dear, don’t say I didn’t warn you.