& then you emerge, cradling your inner child like a kitten taken from its mother two weeks too soon.  on a car ride home from work, as van morrison plays from the stereo, i was longtime hurt, thrown in the dirt, shoved out on the railroad track, some small part of you recognises that you no longer weep because you’re lonely, because you miss the tall boy with pierced ears & beautiful fingers who called you boegles & booparoo, because you can’t manage: your bills, your cats’ litter boxes, your taxes, no.

no, you weep–maybe for the first time–for the girl weeping in the car, van morrison playing from the stereo, i’ve been used, abused & so confused, & i had nowhere to run, the girl who lived, wandless & wearing her scars beneath the freckles on her ankles & forearms, the girl just learning to swing & dip with the rhythm in her hips, the girl whose laughter steeps deep in her belly, the girl no longer fully submerged.

you wonder, what have we lost to the years of this fire? & again you are swimming, salt in your eyes, water plugging your nose.  your belly thunders, craves fullness, balloons like a pregnant bump, & you are on it again, shovelling tomato-noodle soup, grilled broccoli, pepper, & mushroom sandwiches broiled with mayonnaise & mozzarella, & lemon poppyseed cake into your fat maw, spoonful after spoonful of nutella straight from the jar.  you wake: breathless, leaded with grey-lit afternoon rain & the toxicity of secrets, secrecy, whispers, & it is on you again, the tender cervical ache, the orchid petals bee-stung, blistering, curling in on themselves as your fingers pressure the word mine from your disgusting body.  the phantom imprint of another’s body whispers, no, mine, & that man, his tongue fuzzy & swollen with the taste of you, is right.

then you are careening, plucking at your cuticles until the blood burns, shoving away the cat licking at your hand, your mind wrapping like a fist around the neck of a bottle, the sticky-sweet of it souring in your stomach.  sleepless, inconsolable.  you are alive, baby, & letting that, just that, be enough.