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.

Blank stare

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.


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