The smell of the last four years –
ocean-kissed skin in a landlocked-hell
– wraps itself thick in my psyche.
I go back to the beginning,
and there is sunscreen, chlorine,
and hope hanging at the corners of a smile
that don’t quite reach his eyes.
It’s the first red flag I dig up with careful fingers,
but still split my palms on the stake
despite best intentions
and hope he can wash out the scarlet.
I lay each memory on the table,
thin, brittle, malnourished creatures
he whispers I love you to
as he runs the scalpel down the spines,
I will never hurt you when the blade tip
flicks open ribs like angel wings,
I will always be there for you and the kaleidoscope shifts
– you’re alone with the florescent buzz,
your heart beating crimson in your hands.
Every lie -
an exercise in being held down
in the dark of the bathtub
and being told it was safe
I never stopped feeling
the gas crawling its way
into my lungs –
I just decided