a broken ballad of sweet cherry wounds and where they come from

 

When it’s time to undress, I hook my lip like a curtain

pulled back, and it’s what you’d expect.

A grimy finger digging a gemstone ulcer, the sore utterance

that sat salted and festering just inside my cheek for 2 years.

I bite it when I speak, fall asleep to its pulsing ache

and wake up with a lolling head full of seawater,

but I do not bleed.

 

I did bleed from the knee

when I was 14 and fell from my bike,

watched the glittering cherry-pie opening in my skin

as it stitched itself hair by hair together before my father

saw. Before he could find out I zoomed to the elementary school

down the road to meet on the tracks with a boy from second grade

who I’d converted to Christianity.

 

A tiny backpack-bible had sat on my desk like a brick

and seeped stone juice, I recall crisply how my mouth watered

at the gold-leaf paper, wafting the same smells as cherry wounds

I’d forced myself not to drink though I ached to:

I’d like to rend my cracked lips and suck their supple

blistering sin from my skin like a mother lioness.

I’d like to nurse the fruit-rot dessert into ingrown fruition.

 

If I hadn’t eaten my bible, maybe I’d have blossomed

In yellow explosions like the honeysuckle I pointed out to you

along the railroad tracks, maybe my father’s face wouldn’t

have contorted like rotted vines, maybe he’d not have

retreated underground glistening invisibly among

the charred grubs. When they saw my wounds

my family receded like singed frayed

hairs dragged on the dampened sidewalk like

a leash without a dog but the biting under-earth smell

still there, trapped in my own hair, smearing me

across the flat clouded years.

 

Maybe if they’d known that when it bubbles, my cherried palm

crowns nuggets of gold which I eat to glow. Little do they know

I am one of those goldleaves, the rotted tar sugar of cherry

Potholes in the road, the unfurling fresh hot truths from

Broken skin, the chugging of the railroad which

Ticks out the lifecycles of honeysuckle blooms that

Rattle as no train passes.

 

I remember clearly they’d rattle quietly without dropping,

underbrush lilting against the heaven-bound train

towards a sweet Jesus future of endless blood.

crisply speaking stories which taste like distinct copper

filaments found in the body, in the tracks beneath the train,

the human brain, and the innocent glistening wound from

elementary school when time stopped under the sun to

inscribe a girl in god-history

in the neighborhood’s very veins.  

 

So here, I am naked now; this is my body,

My blood and my chugging seawater head

On repeat underneath the empty sidewalk

of my old town, a broken bicycle leaning

in the rain like a rusted shut music-box

streaming copper in silent refrains.

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