She doesn’t remember what it
was like to live without scars.
It was as if that fall day
when she first conceived the idea,
scissors had already traced
their delicate pink lines
across her back.
out a grimy bus window,
dirtied by a dozen teen foreheads,
riddled with mountains of acne-
oil and makeup filter her view.
This long ride back from Sunday’s
fieldtrip; best friends who ignore
few clues she leave them.
Cryptic comments, her bread crumbs-
a lonely gretel wanders alone
towards witch’s oven .
Sixteen, she couldn’t have imagined
these first drops down the crimson drain
would captivate her for seven years.
Malady of her mind manifests
on her back; spreads.
Wounds on the thigh, large
enough to sink the first digit
of her thumb in the flesh bed’s hole.
Often, a cellphone
from her front pocket carries
sticky residue, blood and pus
seeped through fabric.
Deep mellon scoops of her ribcage,
right above her breath. If she
digs deep enough, she can see
the cage that holds her heart.
Years later, to her toddler niece’s innocent
eyes, she’ll lie – a shark bite.
Her favorite was the wrist,
that delicate skin just beneath
useless left hand. She loved to slice through
the skin she learns about in AP bio class.
The epidermis, so thin- just a scratch,
it peels aside with paperclips in bathroom stalls.
The dermis was the tough one,
millimeters below, requires pressure of
her index finger, saws with silver razor
until hypodermis is revealed.
Fatty and smooth, cuts like butter
full of tiny tubes- her arm’s plumbing,
blade slivers her sinew structures-
a signals she should stop,
let her wound dazzle her bathtub’s white
with ruby drops while she washes
her auburn hair, sport’s watch will hide
the gasp in her arm- leaves the occasional
rusty reminder of illness
on her clean shirt sleeve.
She should have grown
out of her selfish habit
before she turned eighteen,
should have kicked it when Joe
walked through the opened door,
in the bathroom found her in a puddle
of fresh blood, razor on the counter.
He drove eighty-five to Hannah’s house-
doctor for a father, obliged to revive her
friend, fluttering eyelids with bandaged wrists.
Should have kicked it when mom
retrieved her from the hospital,
treated her like a china doll,
afraid a certain word spoken too
loud would break the only daughter,
girl who was already cracked.
Should have kicked it when college
began, but would still send chunks
of skin down the drain. Even with
threats of a call to campus security,
force lies over cell phone-
her knife slipped through a bagel.
Like a shackle, it followed her,
into seven different sinks whose
drains drank her blood, razor
a river that cuts canyons through
though rock, leaves deep scars
so easy to access damage’s depth
once again. Every time she picks it
up, she hopes this will be the last
time she allows friendly razor to her skin.
Daydreams tease the idea of death,
but the pillars of her family hold
up the ideal of recovery, the foundation
of her friends inspire her to someday
lock her razor away with the finality
of witch’s oven door.