My mother applied beige
like a gauze pad to the bruises
I won playing a man’s sport.
For beauty, we used
dead roses, our lips
needed something gentle:
a dense color would do
to pass inspection.
Each face must meet the mirror
in harmony. It cannot blink
too much. It must
be yanked as marionette dolls
do allow for themselves:
enough space, but
never enough thought
to break momentum.
You must grow up too quickly. Taste arson
suddenly. Shoplift your mother’s heart by eleven;
but never tell her. Take up smoking
and remove her vodka splinter–
she didn’t mean to shatter
your trophies, or forget your birthday cake
with a fifth of a bottle.
So strip that expectation and shoot it
like the tin can heroes from your bookshelf.
Like the moon that cursed at you
from the railroad tracks. Love a tick
bravely. Watch as it devours itself.
Reduce snowflakes to a number
as you trash a sandbox with beer cans.
Shrink a kaleidoscope to grey,
with the shade of your hand,
accept the slap of a nosebleed,
and touch the truth: we’re here
only to keep the rest of us warm.
And I’m lost in the parallels
of your breath,
the rise and fall of drums;
is how the dust must settle. As we
shake and crawl like loose nails,
chests pitted too tightly. A tension that feels
like love on a tight rope. On my back
tiny armies disagree and leave
is my skin and your hands. Your skin
and my teeth. Note the difference vastly
as you dismiss it. The threads that pull my smile
and unravel. Me, the silk who hems your ribs
suddenly. This is how we grow too obvious.