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(Poem) 13

what to make of your lips

pressed into a line? I’ve spent hours

hypothesizing, studying how they pulse,

how they are pursed, above me

your skin, unearthed from the mattress &

showered in tastelessness, gifting me a hug

I can’t seem to return. I see sparks, or

it used to be once, before the summer

we settled for a sultry simmer instead. between us

my profile, my flat silhouette, it all becomes a line

in your hands, two-dimensional, echoes

bouncing off the walls as you croon a lullaby

& i try to drown it out. you cry yourself

to sleep sometimes, you said, but it’s very rare

that it happens, the tears soaked up by your skin

like a quilt, your skin like a blanket I’ve sewn

myself, a strawberry shortcake, artificial, painted

and dyed to the shade I like, dressed up

in all my favorite clothes, six words I still they

tumble out love you like a song you know? like a half-

written tune puncturing my ears, hummingbirds

tearing open my skin, exposing the hurt laying

inside. I want to hold you but I can’t, I whisper,

I want to be finite as the bed I sleep in, pretend

it’ll always be there even though it won’t, &

we both know there’s something left behind,

something that tugs at your ankle so close

to oblivion, like a comet might come destroy

everything we’ve built together so we construct

a peace offering, a slaughter we paint on

the frames of our door hoping the goodbye

will pass over, that I could hold on

to your shadow for a day longer, praying

that the frayed fabric may last.


Sal likes to describe herself as a professional sluggard and occasional writer. She is a student at Princeton University by day and aspiring poet by night. Her work has been published in Canvas Literary Journal, The Rappahannock Review, and Yes Poetry, among others. Some of her previous gigs include tour guiding at an art gallery and making sad lo-fi ballads in her bedroom. She spends most of her free time sleeping and reading Anne Carson.

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