it’s like clockwork, the movements. nose to the nape of my neck. lips to the curve of my shoulder. one arm tightly around my stomach, pressed so that the curve of one breast fits perfectly in the palm of a hand. another kiss below my ear. a thumb rubbing slow circles into my sternum. my breath shakes, stunted from trying to hold back tears all day and the arm tightens like you’re holding on. you’re safe. i suck in a breath, tensing my body, and you repeat yourself. you’re safe. it took years for me to feel comfortable crying alone but you open me in mere seconds, pulling my body tighter against yours. i dread this vulnerability, wish there weren’t so many of these moments where you can see into my scars and yet live each moment in the wonder of your breath, your words, your grip lighting me up from the inside. you never ask what’s wrong, instead biding your time until i fall asleep in your arms or verbalize what is happening or plead with you to please, make me feel something else. i always have to ask twice. you make me insist that i am sure and then you press against me and the ecstasy takes over and you whisper i love you. i love you. i love you. later, sometime the next morning or in the crisp coral light of dawn, you lay your head on my chest while i tell you and you trace patterns on my skin and then, only when i am ready, you place your forehead against mine and kiss me and say it again. you are safe.
HELD. (Finalist, Who Freaking Cares Writing Contest for Poetic Rejects)
January 26, 2023