I lift into you like rain
regaining its home in the clouds.
Broken above me: the seal of a moon-
white jar, lid undone. Your fingertips dip
in its tide, paint lakes of cream
onto my striated skin. I know you said
not to shave, but people say lots of things:
stay away from trouble—boyish girls
with short hair and fast hands and hearts
on their sleeves; beware of floods, landslides,
and brown eyes; good girls don’t spill their souls
for soft words or bedsheets; remember
silver linings can become blades, stained red.
(This love, like blood, won’t come out in the wash.)
This love, like blood, comes out in the words
you mouth into my collar. You color me
in bruises, stake out your territory,
noose me in I love yous. I’m your Yankee
Pennsylvania girl, born where William penned
his state’s lines—the distance a man could walk
in three days. Like Penn, you take from me
leisurely; you leave other lovers to plunder
their conquests. Or maybe it’s impossible
to take what I’m giving freely.
Maybe, with us, taking carries no weight.
Maybe it only took you three days
to map out for me what no one else could:
that love should be claimed in blood, never pain.
My past loves claimed in blood and pain—
which those gossamer ghost-girls remind me
as they tear our sheets and seep through the walls.
Even here, they speckle me with dead
lip skin and hangnails. They are always coming
apart, now that I’ve stopped coming around.
You told me what’s yours is mine.
Is what’s mine yours? Can you take these girls
who bruise the air with cigarette smoke,
who smother flames of Marlboro and hope
beneath battered thrift-store boots?
How could you—take them on, take them away—
if you wanted? You and they both staked claims
in my skin; remove one, and I’ll bleed out.
Alaina Symanovich is a graduate student at Florida State University concentrating in creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fourth River, The Offbeat, Word Riot, and other journals.