Splinters

Within her skin,
And the body fat
That clings to her bare bones,
Lies terracotta splinters,
Waiting to be sliced out
With a rubber glove.

Digging and sinking
Deeper into her lungs,
They absorb the blood from
Her muscles
Like leeches,
And stick to her ribs
Like warm oatmeal with honey.

They slither inside her bones
To nest,
Until one day,
The timer will run out of sand,
And her insides will
Be carved out of wood,
And she will stiffen,
Like the porcelain doll
Your mother told you never
To touch,
In fear that it would shatter,
But she is already broken.

The moon hits my face,
And peeks through
The smoke-stained,
Ivory curtains, while
Soft voices
Murmur from
The flat screen above our
Contrasting heads.

And here she sits,
Wiggling her toes,
Underneath her
Grandmother's blanket,
Waiting to tell me.



And when she can no
Longer look at me,
And no longer listen
To the silence building up
Around us,
She lifts her shoulders,
And in a weak frown,
She says,
I'm dying.

The words fell from her lips
So matter-of-factly,
That I had known
She'd known for years.
Before the splinters ever started
To eat away her body,
Like maggots in the eves
Of a beautiful home,
She'd known since grade school.
Since plastered artwork on the fridge,
Prom dresses, and vast car rides
Spent going nowhere,
With me.
And I hadn't seen it coming.

And at that moment,
I look away;
Up at the ceiling,
Around the mismatched socks
On the floor,
To the dried-out markers on the desk,
And then back to her chlorinated eyes,
Filled with doubt,
And disappointment.
And I cradle her delicate face
In my hands
And say,
But we still have time.





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