from The Opposite of Robots: Poems
(robocup press 2012):
my skin. I pluck them from
dust, push them
deep down to the
dermis – for
I plant the
bitter roots of my
needing ways – for a
The scabs that
flake away – like
so many regrets.
Now only scar
tissue remains – all
from The Skin Map (a novel), excerpt from a chapter called Appearances:
The What Ifs began. What if I couldn’t talk my way out of this? What if the doctors locked me up and threw away the key? What about work tomorrow? But I still had a way out. The officers hadn’t searched my purse. Had they, they would’ve confiscated my box of Pal razor blades. I was grateful for their incompetence.
I dug through my purse but I couldn’t find the blades. I regretted carrying around so much junk. I located a small box and pulled it to the surface. It was only matches. I wiggled my fingers to the bottom and this time located the blades. I opened the end of the tiny cardboard box and shook it until a blade slid out. Carefully, so as not to cut my fingers, I slid off the protective cover. I contorted the fingers of my right hand into a claw and pointed my fingers downward so that the sharp edge touched my left wrist. The coolness of the metal against my flesh brought great relief, like returning home after a long trip.
The van lurched to a stop. I dropped the blade, along with my purse and its contents. I bent over and scrambled to pick up what I could – lipstick, the box of Pals, the key card I used to enter the building at work, a few tampons, a small address book, cell phone, lotion, and a few crumpled pieces of paper.
One of the officers jangled keys on the other side of the door. Officer B opened the door before I could gather the rest of my things.
“Need some help, there?” he asked.
“No, I got it.” I didn’t want him to find the blades.
Officer B waited while I crammed my belongings – minus the loose razor blade I had been unable to locate – into my purse. I stood up, hunched over, and edged my way toward the exit. Officer B grabbed my left arm to help me down.
“Watch your step.” He held onto my arm to keep me from falling. He locked the van and led me down a sidewalk towards a door of the hospital.
My life had become a hell realm, a bad dream I could not wake from. I thought only of the missed opportunity to escape my suffering – in this lifetime, at least.