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.