Where the knife had been
skin has grown
gnarled scars in a non-pattern
of bumps and grooves
mimicking the serrated edge
and the cold steel violence
of the severing.
Lies and impurities on the surface.
Tetanus-riddled words.
Slow, uncertain stab,
quick and cruel drawing back.
Drawing blood.
Escaping with the weapon
and stopping at nothing,
least of all the voices
you recognized.
Leaving trust behind.
It is, after all, dead weight
and you like to play the role
of one who shuns nostalgia.
Fleeing to a foreign
way of life.
New people new story
no accountability.
A prize with no premise.
Commence a new mission
of seduction. Maybe
these ones won’t be victims.
Maybe you’re only a villain
part-time. Rest of the time
soldier of fortune
backed into corners
cutting across borders
and smuggling undocumented
sympathies to sell
in the black market
for a shot at a happily ever after,
whatever that means to you.

But where the knife had been,
where there used to be bleeding,
just now an empty distance.
As wide and infertile as
high noon in the desert.
No square inch of raw,
open flesh left to join
or hope to save
with desperate stitches.
The tissue no longer recognizes
the part it used to serve.

This is how we heal:
we stop trying to make
an unhappy whole
out of two halves that both
know now that they can
maintain life on their own.
I won’t speak of your crimes
and let you go on
peddling your snake oil.
don’t cross
this line on the sand
pretending to acknowledge
the stains of dried love
on your hands
is mine.

“Marina” by photographer Nolan Lister


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