"Fingertip Blood" by Sam Frost

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Words so tight like my nails on your shirt. Grab fabric, pull you closer. As if your skin and my skin are in the way. Each line —each letter— a breath. Soft air next to your cheek. Warmth that starts in your chest, brings tingles to each finger and toe. Dark flash. Space and time spin grapefruit-sized circles around us.… Let me try to write you into a hug.

 

As if a comma in the right place can soothe whatever is broken. Like spackle on the bedroom wall. Cracks like ant hills smushed by big feet, black lines, outlines. Won’t ask questions. Italicized font can’t fix sadness strapped on shoulders like an inheritance you didn’t want. No gold rings or free land just old dishes with floral print and a painting of a blue bird. 

 

I’m just a misused semi-colon, a professor in the office, holding in screams. Let me make bullet point lists of reasons that you are beautiful…from your soul to the curve of each ear lobe — my jumbled letters form the truth of you. How do I make you believe? Words that grab like baby fingers ‘round teething rings covered in smashed Cheerio spit.  

 

Soft vowels like soft hands. Pinch and squeeze each sound to make it hurt. Walking “A”-“U.” Give them pliers, permission to pierce through all your memories. Little ghosts with purple wings turn each sunrise into sunset, beauty with that punched-in-the-gut feeling. Like when a play ends with death. Theater lights turn on to expose tear-streaked faces. Salt stains like spilled marinade. There’s a girl with a red pen in her pocket. She’ll come to you, but remember: it only writes with blood. Yours. Veins spewed open on tile floors. 

 

Stitch back up with orange string. 

 

How do I transfer my heat to you? Sweat beads on upper lips, jacuzzi jets on your back. Whisper words. Repeat words. Words like love, passion, strength. Put them to music. Create a dance. Whole stage full of professionals, each foot kicking in tune. Red heels. Red lips sing just for you, the monkey tied with too-thin string. 

 

Peel apart fortune cookies. Plastic crinkle, cookie crack. Rip and break until you read what you like. Paper cuts can’t stop me. I’ll repeat each syllable slowly. Burn numbers into my skin. 3. 4. 5. Match-stick marks across my thigh. Pushed up dress. Get down on knees and pray. Tap the ground, look up. “Can you still hear me up there?” Muted, punished? Lack of attention beyond desperation. So I make orange juice and cross fingers. 

 

Teal candle. Purple, yellow. Fruit bowl scents tickle your hair. Look down. My handwriting, those loops. Each “S” shaped like a line, “G’s” turn into “8’s.” Can’t make out whole words. Circle them, green pen. Read them. Read them. Mutter each sound. Each sentence lands like old milk. Clumps down the drain, gurgle gurgle.