imagine if I carved a word into my skin
for every time you hurt me.
the scars would layer so closely
every movement would make the words dance.
for every time I couldn’t catch my breath
just from the thought of you.
for the moment you tried to brand me
your knife white-hot and your eyes ice cold.
for every time you said you’d throw your body over
and wait for your last gasping breath.
for the moment you shattered yours
and the shape of the marks you left on me.
for every time you used your knives
and called my skin your work of art.
for that final message,
and I left the house to hunt you down.
for every time I woke my roommate up
screaming and crying in my sleep and unable to wake.
for the night they saved my life and never knew
your hands on my throat and lights flashing behind us.
for the time you kicked my ribs
and I couldn’t sit up straight for two days.
for every time you snatched a handful of mine
so hard I thought my neck would snap.
for every message you left on mine,
swearing you were nearby and I’d never be free.
for every sip I took with you, self-medicating
so I wouldn’t feel how much you hated me.
for the shadows you imprinted on my neck
so the world knew I was yours.
for every time mine rang during the night
because you couldn’t even let me have sleep to myself.
imagine all those pearl-white letters
linked and layered over my skin
imagine if someone asked
“what is your tattoo”
and I’d have to answer
“it’s a reminder of my mistakes with him,
as if I could ever forget”