we ripped stockings into veils for a bruise
wrapped lace around each finger, counting glitters
painting one another gold in sweet roughness.
every first Monday we would explore caverns
behind the attic shelf, read spells off music sheets
sweep dust into sculptures and write them into song.
and when the Midwest skies turned angry
when puddles turned to moat and trees a castle
we lined the streets in stone and named each one a riverbed.
this was our forever storm –
shrieking naked into forest winds, unpolished and uprooted
suspended aimlessly in youth,
adulthood a summer burn on our tongues.
during one of the lasts, as we lay upon soil
in a crumbling shed, you cupped a hand to my knee
and whispered our hummingbird spirits immortal.
I still have the beads and your favorite blue feather.
one day I’ll sew them all together and fly back home to you.
so you’ll pick up the phone and set it down twice.
the voices hush, creak as nightfall silences itself –
the moon is too red tonight. you chop tomatoes
toss them in a pan and let oil spit on your skin.
you taste the burn and burn the tomatoes, but
now it is twelve. the colors have all gone home.
sometime after, you pour water in a glass and
set the glass in your teeth but it turns to dust.
damned evening. everything turns to filth so
you crack the mirror and wash each piece dry.
not before you catch a speckled glimpse, VHS
rewind of your ruby-rimmed eyes flickering and
flickering and screaming. the cot is folding itself
and the linen is crawling but you climb in anyway.
bed the monsters and shut your eyes. by morning
they’ll be as clean as the white light of day.
snaps of fluorescence pierce their way into my lungs
do you remember? reflections of a shattered bottle
of thickened blood pooling in my stomach and
I bite my tongue to keep each word from spilling over.
don’t hurt yourself dear, not before the first song.
so the tongue is bit and the flesh is clean and the noise
dances on in neon floodlight. I keep my hands
knotted as not to wander or creep and undress skin.
but the night is still raw, the crowd readjusting itself
like feet on a branch shifting shifting.
someone asks about the opening act, or the grapefruit
punch. soon it is two my nails have dirtied and one by
one the boys cut themselves on the nape of my neck.
I let them taste the punch like an acid kick to the buds.
baby baby I hope you kept your piece of my ache.
Lilian Ha is a junior in high school from the suburbs of Seattle, Washington, where she is an active member of the creative youth community. Her work is forthcoming in The Cadaverine and she is currently interning at Winter Tangerine. Selected by David Ishaya Osu.
Image copyright Jody Joldersma.