Lacerations (With Apologies to Law & Order: Criminal Intent)

by Wren Donovan

Deep stabs into the heart and lungs along with shallow cuts
into the chest.  Thin skin and rawhide ribcage.
A weltering of wounds, paper cuts and ice picks.
The killer didn’t know what force to use.  I trace the lines
connect the dots, tease out the pattern.  Tilt my head.
You were abusive.  You could not love me.  I was not happy.
The simplest explanation is usually what’s true.
A cacophony of nicks from Occam’s Razor.
Malice wielded in precision or tossed as exploration idly
feeling out the tender spots the easy targets for penetration.
You learned your talent at the feet of your father
like many a sociopath.  No, that’s not fair, you had good
conscience sometimes.  But you referred all things back to yourself
to your own pain your fear of smallness of being average
and unremarkable, a shit-ass like he called you.  You needed me
to be small and wrong and never centered, never indulged
never without conditions.  You deserved both more and less
than what you got.  You deserved a loving childhood but
you did not deserve the time I gave you the forgiveness
I gave you the sex I gave you the power.
I don’t begrudge you the comfort, because you comforted me as well.
I will accept that, my neediness, and my participation trophy.
I never picked a fucking movie.  I fit my own desires to your decisions.
I let you be the goddamn bride in a wedding I designed.
I cannot recoup the years, there is no coat check to reclaim dignity
no ticket to retrieve my psychic laundry fresh and clean.
My self-esteem took time to bleach in sunlight.  I wear it proudly now
beneath my new coat, patchwork sewn myself from love and fear and
fingernails and dulse and blows of tender words that fall as
soft and cool as snow and hands that are always warm and unconditional.
New love holds a new place by my side, no part of what you
were, un-sorry surrogate. Yet you’ve not been removed.
You are the shrunken monster somewhere stamping his damp foot
still demanding reassurance from my hesitation
and my acquiescence and my anxieties.
You can no longer cut me, your blade is dust, but scars remain
faint evidence, ghost lacerations fade to pearly tracks.

Wren Donovan lives in Tennessee. Her poetry appears or is upcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, Harpy Hybrid Review, Green Ink Poetry, Dillydoun Review, Cauldron Anthology, and elsewhere. She studied classics, literature, and folklore at Millsaps College, UNC-Chapel Hill, and University of Southern Mississippi. She reads Tarot and talks to cats.

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