by Grace Gardiner
after Marty McConnell
I hide behind a waterproof shadow
and red matte lips. You say I can’t hurt,
though you ignore me on our dead-end street.
In the tub at home, I scum pink, peel strings
of pus-puckered skin clean off my nail beds.
I don’t cry. I wait, tuck the bleed under
my tongue, clot pain with spit. In your Ford’s
patinaed backseat I collapsed our altar.
Its centerpiece was me: stripped and naked
and thin as the skin at the wrist, the back
of the knee. I’m not sorry to say the wrong
words for the right reason: I never wanted you.
There are worse things I could do when leaving
is not enough, when leaving is still too much.