claws and cages

he always held me like a cage – all teeth, all claws
gripping anything he could reach – lovehatepanic
he was a tempest on a trigger
snarling dark sarcasms from shallow eyes
suspicious and jealous and

there wasn’t a warning,
monsters don’t confess their crimes
“darling, I’ve left claw marks in things I’ve loved
my fingers are sandpaper, dragged along skin
like nets searching for bodies underwater
and never letting go once I snag”

I dove underwater and sank, my very own anchor
and by the time I took a breath
I didn’t understand why I was drowning
and how everyone else saw it coming
you don’t decide to face your demons,
it isn’t bravery —
they claw at you from inside
turn your bones to rubble and shred you to pieces
wait for the eleventh hour, and attack
until your only option is to fight for your life
and hope like hell that’s enough

when you were finally gone,
I stood surrounded
smoke and scars, shattered pieces of your destruction
and realized
it never occurred to me
that I might survive you


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