by Rebecca Rose

A hundred men make meals of courtesies daily.
They assure me they are the wardens of my comfort
Their cracked lips deposit words like please and thank you on my cheek
But their minds swim to darker places
Places where I go black and nameless
Places where I am bound and down deep into the water
Places I sometimes long to exist

in my mind.

Vanity is a tree.
I like to climb it rung by rung and assert my will
on its chipped bark-stripped branches.
I apply lipstick as though it were precious gauze,
carefully assembling the pieces to cover to the entirety of the wound,
to secure it from infection,
from poisonous elements of the natural world who seek havoc.

I break bones of men who assume the worst and best of red lips,
Lips glazed in honey, poisoned, primed.
I break their backs as they strain their necks
as they bow their heads
as they pretend to look for things they have not left behind.
I bend them to my vanity

in my mind.

In my mind ¬
I am a strip of cool air that floats above this place.

I wake from a rippled slumber to her voice,
the alchemist carefully resurrecting my dead decayed skin,
urging me to drink more

To trick men
so they cannot tell

I am drowning under the weight of all of this