Blood by Alaina Symanovich


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.)


Three Days

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.