Full Moon and Plum Tree
My father buys plums and asks me not to ruin them this time.
When he leaves the room, I press my thumbs
into them until the skin gives out, until the whole kitchen is muscle and juice,
dark-purple in desperation.
I can’t remember the word for touch in Spanish, can barely remember it
in my own tongue.
Undressing leaves a bruise these days,
how my breasts rise
to choke me with my arms above my head.
All of the black clothing piled in front of my mirror
eats a hole in the floor
that I step into each morning.
I count down the days until December, until I have not been kissed
for two years.
In Spanish, sin means without,
and this has to mean something because
God has banished me to my body and no one comes to visit anymore.
If I am so terrible, put me back in the sea.
I will take my meat-heart and leave the rest of the fruit,
cover myself in night because there is always more night.
In the ocean, God cannot abandon me, only the moon,
but she comes home each night, kisses me.
When I look at her, she looks back,
face pock-marked at all the places I have put my fingers inside of her.
She tells me, Te estoy sosteniendo.
I am holding you. You are held.
Memory From the Week I Unremembered
On my first night in the psych ward,
a woman who does not ask my name
strips the underwire from my bra.
Her hands, lazy slow
in a pattern of ease that comes only with practice.
I study the skin of her knuckles
against the pink-handled scissors,
blades dulled enough
that even a thief could not make herself bleed.
In the half-light
filtered through a window reinforced with steel,
between the footsteps of an on-call nurse
and the muffling of nightmares
in the room next to mine,
I turn the mangled fabric over and over again,
grieving, picking each seam
until the threads pull loose, long and frayed
in a quiet unwinding of white.
I put my head on my shoulders
and sew it in at the throat,
but I've never had a steady hand
or known when things are supposed to end.
Maybe girl scouts would have been good for something after all.
The fresh necklace of scars,
black-threaded and messy against my skin,
attracts all sorts of attention on the street.
It’s that or the width of my hips
or the bloody lip or sideway kneecaps-
I haven’t figured out what makes me such a sideshow act quite yet.
That’s a lie.
If I’d been a girl scout, maybe
I would’ve learned the secret to camouflage
or how to tell the truth.
A man in a yellowed Mustang
watches me adjust my skirt, catches
the overflow of thigh and spits through his teeth.
Still, I practice smiling in the mirror before bed,
but the glass keeps splitting
and I’m running out of glue and tape and grit.
My mother checks on me at night,
arranges my limbs in perfect lines, worried
that I’ll wake up tomorrow
and decide to leave myself in pieces.
She buys me a sewing machine, three black dresses,
a hat big enough
to swallow everything, even my shadow.