Where Your Hands Are Too Gentle to Draw Blood

I am not a porcelain doll–so many fissures I fall far from perfection. But your eyes alight with the excitement of a child on Christmas day, my clothes as scattered as torn wrapping paper and tossed aside just as carelessly. You kiss me and kiss me and kiss me like you’ve never known such happiness and we can’t. Stop. Smiling.

I follow railroad tracks of scars mapping your flesh, paths laid with self-loathing and a razor blade. Tick marks of a prisoner’s cell to mark your failures like the passage of time, a countdown to parole, but you’ll never get out, will you? You relegate me to conjugal visits.

Your wrists bleed with visible wounds and invisible shackles. Even with this burden, your fingers are soft against my cheeks, guiding me to meet a sincerity in your eyes that crushes my lungs. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. I cry myself sick.

How can these hands–that have touched me and held me and left me shaking, gasping, where contact is tectonic–how can these hands be claws? How can these hands leave swaths of purple in their wake? How can these hands–but you bear the evidence like the stripes of a jungle cat.

That’s how. When resentment outweighs compassion. When you’re convinced you’re a weapon. When regret hooks your ribs and pulls.