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May 21, 2020 Nonfiction

Ex-Ray

Amy V. Blakemore

Ex-Ray photo

I. 

Inside of you is a bright red painting slashed down the middle with a knife. You scared me and this is what attracted me to you, I admit. You drove a dark car and we kissed in your dark basement as Heathers played in the background. When you gave me my first hickey, I wondered if you would pull a strip of my neck skin with your teeth and keep pulling until you peeled me to pink. Later you told my friends I was inexperienced. In your esophagus, there is a permanently wedged pomegranate seed—underneath your fingernails, dark chocolate. Do you remember feeding my anorexic body in the kitchen? I wonder what has sprouted since I last saw you, if the branches have ripped through your skin and if your skin has grown around them. A whole tree could grow in ten years. When I broke up with you, I thought you might kill me, and somehow, I was bored. 

II. 

A telephone cord runs from your ear to your gut, tangles up in your ribs. Your body was always eager to receive my troubles, my fuck this, my no one understands me, my enthusiastic but bad poetry. You loved eating my sadness. You gave me a pet name the name of a flower, and I see a small garden of the women you’ve loved since, decorating your pelvis. For a high-schooler you were very romantic. If you seemed less ravenous, I might have let you eat all of me. Do you remember when we made out on the trampoline? When I touched you there, and the fading leaves promised to keep our secret? I’m sorry I couldn’t give myself to you; you loved too readily. Look: inside your ribcage there’s a doll where your heart should be, or maybe your heart is the shape of a girl. If I couldn’t see inside of you, I wouldn’t believe it, either. If you looked inside the tender part of my right thigh, the part I’ve dreamed about cutting off with a knife, you might also find the silhouette of a man. 

III.

I didn’t know that your yellow hair ran through you like this, wrapped knots around your bones. Every boy we knew wanted to make you his princess, but they didn’t see you like I do now: full of thorns, and fur, and the milk you always drank. I am sorry I stopped touching you. If your boyfriend hadn’t been watching, I would have kept going. The kiss I placed below your navel—I would have wiped it clean like soot on a white cloth. I would have kept eating your breath. At some point you ate an animal and it’s still in there, decaying, sweet and rotten. In your stomach: a beak, maybe a talon. You made me want to touch myself and smell it. But I think you are trying to be clean again; I think you believe in God again. You took your engagement photos on a beach when the sky was white—the negatives are right here, behind your cheeks. When we were young we prayed to cracked beers, cut skin, compliments. It’s okay if you don’t remember. I only think of you in dirty garages. 

IV. 

First love, there is so much to read in you. In the back of your skull: a lock of brown hair from the baby we talked about having, when we would knew there would be no having. In the crook of your lip: a stain of green vomit from the night you drank too much and I got angry. Underneath your tongue are the small black letters from my texts saying: I don’t deserve you. And underneath your armpit is the vibrator you hid from me out of jealousy, still buzzing. I’m sorry; I’m not trying to break you apart. Maybe someday we will see each other across the bar and I will bring you to the bathroom—not to fuck, but to show you the shadows of your hands on my wrists from when you pinned me down and I liked it. But right now you are sitting with your woman, drinking coffee. And when she says driving you might think of the time you drove us through that storm and almost hit a tree—your knuckles might suddenly go cold. Or maybe you forgot, and only your body remembers. 

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