(First published The Dead Inside, 2022)
I put your letters in the closet
with my old school shoes,
eleven years and seven moons ago.
I vowed to keep them hidden,
pushed as far back as they could go,
boxed up with the memories they held.
But memory finds me waiting,
poised to act in haste and fear, and
memory is a poison in my blood.
Like an infection in a wound
that took too long to fully heal,
a kiss was all it took to make it spread.
A scorpion’s sting of devilry,
you found a chink and took the plunge,
pierced my armoured heart until I wept.
O, deliver me from evil. Scrub this stain,
sins of my past. Where am I now?
A million miles from where you left me.
Abandoned at the roadside,
tossed aside, dumped at the curb,
you ran alone and ran away. I couldn’t follow.
While you were hounded from your home
I held my tongue and closed my eyes, although…
the taste of you still lingered on my lips.
And shamed, I confessed all,
to black ink pools, and shadowed graves.
I howled into the wind and cursed the night.
My pockets full of rocks, a weight that pressed,
and I, undressed, prepared to walk,
and send my bones beneath. But stalled.
These secrets sewn in lips that lied,
like I laid down beside you,
I swiped the tears away and washed you clean.
Those faded scars upon my flesh –
a map that led me home again –
I built my dreams on stories that weren’t mine.
And he, with hands of stone and blood,
became the wall around me, stood as a
protection and a curse; a hidden bruise.
I paid the toll with white lace hems,
a hundred guests caught in pretence
I held my breath and caged my wicked truth.
He hammered nails into my chest,
my bed was made, and so I gave
my all as it was ever asked of me.
He. Took. My. Very. Soul. From. Me.
Carved up, dug in, spooned out and hollowed,
Pumpkin, sweetie, honey pie…
“Bring me another beer. Bitch.”
And I, lost in my pain, looked up
to find you come upon my step,
star-swaddled, haloed by a half-draped moon.
You took my hand and whispered,
God knows I’ve made enough mistakes. But this?
Bar lights, Coors Lights, bright neon signs,
flashing like a firework and a pulse inside my head,
with a warmth upon my skin that spreads like oil.
A shark-toothed smile, a tilted head.
But that’s not who I am now, did you forget?
You left me here to rot.
And if he knows, if he finds out,
it won’t be bruises, but hot copper in my mouth.
And fire burst between my legs,
as he pummels all his hatred and
six drinks down, I know it’s time to
For all the words would ruin me,
and all the sins would burn me,
and God will never, ever take me back.
Your dimples, crinkles, gold-flecked eyes,
Like hazel drowned in chocolate, I
yearn for that forbidden, shameful taste.
You always brought such drama, and
I was drawn to the despair
The tragedy you craved a centre stage for.
You dressed everything in fantasy,
I was just your Page,
but soft, you know full well how this must end.
“We won’t look back?” I ask you,
and your answer strips me raw,
we leave that place united, star-crossed lovers evermore.
See now, a mouth filled with surprise
and questions left unanswered.
A blade is buried in the flesh,
clear water blessed with blood.
In black ink pools, a shadowed grave,
a body buried under.
Like letters hidden, tucked away,
boxed up and bound with tape,
my old school shoes are long gone now
sunk deep beneath the lake.