watching my mother sleep

mother your eyes are open books from all the lessons you have endured
                                                                                                   and perhaps enjoyed.
some days you will fingerprint this world with derision.
                                i now, 19 years, am sort of whole.
i unfold myself, see my lengths and my curves
and wonder how you grew me.
                   soft and new, our bodies concentric circles.
                                                   you dream of weird things.
i never know which bouquet to buy you.
i never know which colour you truly are.
                     your eyes talk of the day you have had and so you go to sleep.
i hear your pulse when you tuck me under your shoulder.
i smell your heart heaving when i cry.
my tears absolve; you wash me down with words
                            and change me as though i were two again.
me and my flesh muddy from all the same lessons you have endured,
                                                                                                    and perhaps enjoyed.
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he hit me right over the head
bled and bled and bled
he sucker punched me to the sky
when i came back down

he kicked and kicked and kicked
the bruises defiled me, disfigured my face
and the blood dried in my hair
fingernails burned away

he dragged his axe
through me
repeatedly
slowly

all of this done smiling
and i remember the last strike
blinding me in the eyes
and i was gone.

i dragged my carcass to the hospital
my fingers trembling
i fixed my own drip
filled up bags with the blood of friends

which they’d donated with complimentary kisses
i lay there deader than pluto
when i checked myself in
and people i loved watched me sleep

they watched me breathe weakly
my ribs raise
the anchors of my heart sewing themselves slowly
back into the cavity

none of us expected him to give me a real beating
but who does?
we all lay there and waited for me
and one morning my eyes flew up like the sun.

we stuck some gauze onto my wounds
and sterilising them
wow
the pain meant acknowledging how bad it was

we cleaned my hair
had it smelling of rosehip and jojoba
we threaded our needles and started stitching
we soaked up the blood from the floors of my house

with paper towels
they went and bleached it
he’d done a runner
long gone

we filled in the paperwork
we filled in the holes
filtered blood into my veins
filtered life back into my eyes

he left like a bruise
in some amazing way
the black and blue
become purple and yellow

and the yellow to cream and skin
we watched me breathe harder
happier
and when it was time

i stood up
and made the bed
i let the drip fall to my feet
i removed the gown i’d worn like a disease

i discharged myself of a broken heart
the stitches still dissolving
the scabs swallowed by my own kiss
i opened the door

went home
stared at my kitchen floor
cleaner than a baby’s two eyes
and warmer than a mother’s hands

bleached bare
no pain in the crevices of the tiles
banking the walls
nothing

no we all came home to my house
and we all watched the moon pass our faces
we all smiled
the past disbanded as memories often do

then i was whole and free.