if you gave me permission to kiss your heart,
not just the skin on your chest that protects it—
the pecs i’ve greeted with warm and greedy pecks
past the number if times deemed to be polite;
not just familiar and smooth brown skin,
but that deep and scary thing that lies within—
i’d first have to hide my embarrassing grin.
i’d tiptoe up to your beating red flesh nervously,
take note of your vulnerability
and marvel at the sight before me
and at how before this day, in blood,
i never saw beauty.
i’d check my breath and wipe my sweaty palms on my pants
before softly kissing it with parted lips and folded hands.
i would set up residence in all four of your chambers,
curl up and read the book of your soul,
highlight all the secrets you’re still afraid to tell me;
dog-ear the pages of your insecurities
French-kiss your pain and lick your wounds,
digest them to make them mine.
but they’re already mine.
you have unraveled the helixes of my DNA
and genetically altered and doubled us
into a four-strand cord impossible to break;
victimized my veins
and transformed them from kidnapped to kin;
taught me choreography to a rhythm once new
but now true.
the pulse of
i still shiver
when fingers touch my neck without forewarning.
if a man tries to whisper in my ear,
my body freezes
like the temperature just dropped.
this body used to be
raw honey for black tea,
good music for a weary soul.
my voice used to sing simple songs
about my day or foods i like.
but this tongue grew numb
and i still get nervous
when the weight i purposely gained
i’m still suspicious of strangers;
plot escape plans
when i walk in alleys alone:
if i’m wearing heels,
i practice in my head
how i’ll stab a crazy man in the eye;
if wearing boots,
i plan to knock him down, stomp, and run;
if any other shoes,
then knee must be used.
all this preparation for a woman
who’s never been attacked by someone she didn’t know;
all these thoughts of violence for a woman
who thought love conquered all.
but i had one failure,
trusted when i should’ve been cautious,
stayed when i should have left,
entertained when i should have ignored…
and sometimes i still