i. it’s not like it’s a secret
(even though you like to pretend it is.)
i step over the conversation like it’s roadkill. everyone else steps on it,
grinding blood and bones into the pavement as they continue on.
they all walk. i weave, look down at my feet.
it’s a sad sight. i don’t know what it was before it became a footprint.
i don’t know if i’d end up like that if i tried to tell you,
so better to grind myself down than let you do it for me.
my body is a canvas i cut into with ballpoint pens, tattoo needles, my own fingernails.
flesh slices through flesh and i see the circles of my insides like the growth rings of a tree.
she draws arrows at the bullseyes and cuts parts of her soul to give to me.
her breath is warm when i draw blue lines across her skin with my pen,
arrows of my own that point to her heart and follow the veins underneath her skin.
i grasp her hand so that the tattoos on our wrists are covered, my fingers curling around her knuckles.
i keep my nails to myself.
iii. cut my teeth
i’ve sown my own mouth shut in more ways than one,
pulling one stitch through for every knife that’s come from your voice.
my tongue feels the scars they left behind in my cheeks,
and my teeth feel foreign in my mouth, calcified and white when i bite the skin of my lips for blood.
she kisses me regardless, feels my chapped lips with her own and undoes the stitches like buttons.
i can taste the blood down my chin when i tell her everything i can’t tell you,
write down everything else when my tongue is too swollen to form the words
and give them to her like i gave her my heart.
i can’t taste the difference between blood and metal anymore but with her, i don’t have to.
iv. blood of the covenant
i cut my knuckles on the rings we wear around our necks,
her thumb tracing patterns into my skin with the blood.
i give her what i can from my veins and she gives me hers;
the red, languid and slow, beads along her wrist like a bracelet.
i’d marry her behind your back if it meant i could return the knives you threw at me,
drawing the water i’d always known was under your skin.
it drips like a river to the ground, blue seeping through the cracks far too fast for it to mean anything.
i bled liters for you, but this was all you could give.
i lay my heart out red and raw,
its beating steady in my ears.