“caged,” “eleven, six, one” and “bones”

“caged,” “eleven, six, one” and “bones”


my skin is a lead bodysuit

and other than the hope

that it might crush me one day

it hides my vibrating bones

so that I am the only one

that feels them shaking

inside of me

when I can find the effort

every once and a while

to lift the weight of my lead hand

you’ll see I can hold it steady

but you won’t see my chest rising

or falling

eleven, six, one

eleven, six, one

jagged carvings along

tendons branching

morphing into makeshift veins

of scar tissue

eleven o’clock

striking matches

cauterizing ripples in time

burning sage with


six galleries

brushstrokes of razor blades

gentle and jealous

stand back

do not touch the artwork

one luxury

spa lasting sting

lavish salts

a soaking masterpiece, paint

lost sinews bare

one, six, eleven

lose count of the liters

lost down the drain

love thyself

loathe thyself


there was a hole in the bottom of my left foot

skin and flesh were torn away

you could see straight through to the


it happened sometime when i was with the other boy

but I don’t quite remember the details

there was an even smaller hole tucked behind my right ear

skin and flesh were torn away

revealing the smooth skull underneath

and hidden by my unwashed hair

that one happened before i could remember

i think from my dad?

that’s what my mom says at least

my dad says it was from the tramp who was fucking my mother

i don’t think i believe either of them

you had asked about the holes

asked how i got them

asked why i got them

got mad when i couldn’t give you the right answer

you grabbed my hands

begged me to tell you

and when i told you

i don’t know, babe, i just don’t know

you ripped your hands from mine

you stupid lying bitch

and with that

the skin and flesh where your hands touched mine

were torn away

all that was left were


you apologized

the part of me that you held in your hands

absorbed into your skin

you grew half an inch that day

you bought me flowers

you told me you believed me

you touched me so lovingly i melted into you

i came home crying

weeks later?

months later?

hours later?

the man who sat next to me

the cubicle next to me

put his hand next to me

around me

on me

when i pulled back from him

skin and flesh were torn away

right off my upper thigh

you didn’t believe me again

didn’t believe when i said

he touched me

i didn’t want him to touch me

of course i did, according to you

of course i wanted a hole ripped through me

exposing the skeleton underneath

according to you

you grabbed my arm

you grabbed my neck

you grabbed my hair

each time

skin and flesh were torn away

when you let go of me

those pieces of my body became yours

you grew five inches that day

you bought me jewelry

you told me you loved me

you took my body to limits i didn’t know it could reach

you grew accustomed to your new height

you liked looking down on me,

where you couldn’t see

the decaying skeleton through my wounds

where all you could see

was the top of my head

every now and again you’ll touch me

and skin and flesh will tear away

my cheek

my wrist

my ribcage

and each time

you grew

each time

you bought me new clothes

to hide the imperfections

you told me it was my fault

i should take better care of myself

you made love to me

with more passion each time

until that too left me more tattered than i started

from your newfound height

you couldn’t see my open wounds

until you knelt down to my level

and realized the only skin i had left

rested on top of my shoulders

you placed your fingertips

on the only flesh i had left

told me

i can’t be with someone

who is so ripped apart

i need to find a person

who is as whole as i am

you walked off

the last of my

skin and flesh were torn away

and i stood there

looking at you

and all that was left of me were


About the Author

Madalyn Rymer

Madalyn Rymer recently graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Creative Writing and an M.S. in Elementary Education and is an emerging writer with work forthcoming in Beyond Words literary journal and Storm of Blue Press.