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Can I throw this one away and start again?

By Isabelle Baafi

Straddling you, my tongue pries your lips open.

Knowing you’ll one day leave, I leave my taste there.

My world immediately sours. I once flew to an island

with a dozen girls I couldn’t stand. At dinner,


I felt a wound inside me open; a kind of

dying wombic hope that I had not expected.

I downed ouzo and souvlaki to staunch it.

But when I stood to leave, I was the only one


who couldn’t see I was bleeding. Sometimes,

I would trudge through campus drizzle. Pull up

my red hood, lying open in the wood. And still –

no wolves came. Buoyed up to the surface


of a vodka-rivered dream by the boy pulling my jeans

around my ankles. Nudging thoughts of me into the sun,

hoping they’ll bloom. Ivy only clings because

the wall smiled, asked to keep in touch. Shadows


only crawl because they’ve seen our lowest parts.

A security guard follows me through Boots –

and I fidget my arms, knot my fingers –

not knowing how to tell him I have nothing,


nothing in my hands. Or that every time I have ever smiled,

my mother was holding the corners of my mouth. Or how,

just now, in a public bathroom, I stepped on a scrap

of toilet tissue, begging it to stick. It refused to hold onto me.


I want to talk about following crumbs

from midnight feasts at sleepovers. How

even little girls forage the night. I want to talk

about heaviness. I want to talk about wanting dark,


and the light that insists itself upon me each morning.

Or the fact that – and for this I take the blame –

because I made myself sweet on your tongue,

I was easy for you to devour.

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