by Anessa Rodriguez
Breathe in, breathe out,
feel muscle expand, lungs fluttering like tissue paper
as oxygen enters the caverns of your chest.
Sounds and words that aren't yours
jangle like loose change at the base of
your throat and you hadn't always been like this,
hadn't always had to choke down the words and
grief of others.
—Here, they had said, take this
dropping pieces of their sorrow
into your outstretched palms.
You tremble, feel their grief
cut into your skin. Okay,
you say, wipe bloody palms
on the hem of your shirt,
The low, heady drone of a dial tone
crackles beneath your skin,
curls beneath your tongue and
buzzes against your teeth,
paints your mouth the color of negative
space until each breath
tastes of desolation.
At dusk you watch dying sunlight
spill onto your hands and turn them to glass,
watch red light bleed across your chest,
cutting through and out as if
you were never really there