smelling salts

I’ve got the hands of a woman

with nothing left to give

the feet of a woman

with nowhere to go, not even home—

tú haces que mi corazón lata but,

that’s not right either, is it?

we lived in a bubble, the real world

exposed to the pretend, now, I fall ill

my immune system tumbling,

like the crumbling tower of empty glass bottles

under your kitchen sink I created

do you think they’ll let me keep you

under those grounds?

that is, when you’re not around, I am

victim to bacteria, fungi, viruses

compounded and compressed into my

suffering skin until the life of me

has lived; all that remains is the microbiology

of what I used to be

you see me now, I know:

hands with nothing left to (for)give

feet, nowhere to go

embroider my flesh and pray I’ll come

inside, inside where you keep the fire

ignited—

every moth has a beacon:

you are mine, mine, mind covered in sand

taste each grain, count what I’ve lost

beg for forgiveness at all that I’ve found

because you, you, you keep me from

falling

ap art

or so you thought—

won’t use your name in ink or metonymies or metaphors because you, you would be the anchor tethering me to a dying coral reef; so I’ll write about another smile, the one that never fails to make my lips reflect the same; I’ll write about my sister, perched on the edge of the coffee table, eyes boring into my mother’s as they talk about nursing home options for my grandmother; the beautiful and tragic kinds of things like the caterpillars I never meant to smash under my car tires and the way my cat tucks his front feet under his chin when he sleeps; I’ll write about Slavic folklore and fern seeds and I’ll visit the ping pong tables at midnight like I used to, hand over my mouth laughing because some boys are talented at improv poetry, spinning delicate lines for me, for me; I’ll collect all the beautiful words in a letter for another; and I’ll erase in careful strokes the memories, now rendered useless to me; I will write until I no longer remember the enamored things I used to say about you; and either way, it won’t make a difference because you always talked over me, never listened; but these writings,

I’m not doing it for you

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