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A Bid for the Golden Apple
i was too young and small to give blood.
my veins rolled away from the shadow
of a needle ticking under my skin, metronomically,
counting the time till i would be old enough
to bleed. remember how i bled
the first time? so much later than the rest.
i don’t bleed enough to be a woman.
were you there when she walked
on a broken leg for two days? remember
how the bruise formed:
purpling like her eyelids as
dusk gnawed sleep to the bone, her hands
kneading skin ripe as a pomegranate on the verge
of splitting, seeds spilling thick crimson
over cracked lips. but she was taught
to keep her blood hidden,
to chew her words and swallow.
blood doesn’t lie, Aphrodite.
blood pools one year
later in the hollow of her hips,
bursts out all seeds, all bright
red possibility and she remembers
every crack in her lips.
we dropped our hearts in our hips,
Aphrodite, we poured them down our legs hoping
we could grow something
in the watered earth, the shriveled husk
more beautiful than ourselves.
we were always too small
to bleed, to be beautiful, and
they could never find a vein to draw;
they only wrote puckered scars
over our hands and thighs and arms
until we could not hold our hearts,
and they fell.
i was diagnosed with a dissonant heartbeat,
something necrotic and too dark, purpling
in my chest like a stain. prognosis:
bury it in the cushions of the empty seat on the bus,
bury it in the backyard playing hide and seek,
bury it beneath breasts too small to be beautiful.
we built coffins underneath our tongues, praying
our voices would rest in peace instead of rising
against the insistence that brown eyes and short frames
were not enough, we were not enough for anyone.
you won’t hear her say a word because
she’s tired of reading her scars aloud.
remember how the bruise formed?
when he fell out of her heart and hips and
her hands glowed when she rocked him in
the middle of the night, sleepless eyelids purpling
like morning holding its breath.
he is her blood, reaching for her,
and she loves him without words.
you won’t hear me say a word because
i’m tired of leaving my voice in their hands.
remember how the bruise formed?
when my heart slipped into my hips and
i broke his name in my bones, walking
on it for days while my lips purpled
because i was too afraid to speak.
i love him without words.
we were taught to keep our blood hidden.
is this the way you made us to love?