they say an amputee can still ache
in the empty place where the limb used to be
can feel the quake of neurons that don’t exist
in a combination of air and leftover space

but there are no scientific studies on the sensation
of being missed, the heavy difference in here and there,
no scholarly articles published on the fact that
tattoos worsen in their permanence when they’ve been kissed,
but she’s been working on calculating her own formulas,
detailing her argument on the earnestness of heart pangs
hypothesizing and theorizing

your name smarts like broken glass in her mouth,
she could cut herself on the edges of your promises

so she’s just going to write
a few words
carve each of them
in her particularly picked places:
collarbone, jawline,
eyelid, sternum,
spaces between ribs,

it smells like honeyed iron,
drips and slithers in threadings
of sorry, scarlet snakes,
all the letters snarl at her
swollen and furious and glaring:
cinders,
temptation,
candy,
crooked,
vanish,
but there aren’t enough,

she can still feel you like persistent splinters she wants picked out from under her skin,
and the kitchen knives are too
big for her tiny fingers,
so she holds just one steady
between both hands,
drags,
tugs,
grinds,
along the arcing edges
until it’s beating turns to squirming
ventricles pleading to hold
themselves in place

and the certain, silver blade
makes such short work of them,
splits half a smile in her shallow face
the placid water of her eyes
when she takes it,
breathing out,
bleeding out,
leaves just a cool
wisping draft in that
gaping space
where she used to ache

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