Five Species of Pain

I.

On dry land
How I now regret.
This air I have taken for granted
Drowns me.
The constricting cords wind down tight—
Undulating downward and
Tap
Tap
Tap
The tender membrane vibrates
Blood red and unspoken pain.
Sings of unseen beauty and the darkness
Beneath the surface of the sea.
I struggle for breath,
And fear to dream,
Lest the waves roll over at last.

II.

Feathers sweep,
Lighter than dust,
And brush against the temple.
Light flickers in the western hemisphere —
Only just seen.
And the fear settles in
As I see that bird again.
It follows
As I descend the blackened ladder,
Pass through the iron trapdoor.
Here the dark descending
Drips with the dank rot.
But once below,
All is dry –
Dry and tender.
The skull radiates
And the great bird sees.
Launching from the dripping branch to land
With claws of flame
To dig beneath the skin,
The bone,
Exposing all
To wailing wind and blinding light.
Hide away.
Hide away.
Crawl beneath the stone.
Go beneath and into darkness
To escape the cruel claw and piercing cry.
Until again the wings up-lift,
And the feathered watcher retreats.
Patiently waiting,
For next time.

III.

Halved and
Severed.
At the middle, the block.
The energy surges downward
Riding the vertebral highway.
But the spinal disconnect
Like a bridge fallen
Into the river below.
The confusion in the roots.
Tingling with dread
At every movement.

IV.

For once there is purpose
In this.
Wave upon wave
Builds over time
To crescendo,
Absorbed by dull ache
In betweentimes.
Then skin rips —
The flesh —
The bone —
Stretched and torn
From the inside.
Do not touch.
Do not speak —
Lest I be carried up again
From these depths
Until again the wave rolls over,
Bringing with it the memory
Of sea smell.
Let deep focus
Carry me beneath the waves.
All recedes.
Rhythm above
Watched not felt —
Until finally —
Surrender.

V.

Alone here in splintered light
Sharp implement in hand:
The needle,
The razor.
I make this cut
To feel, to feel.
To see that I am flesh and blood.
But hide this weakness
With power over.
To bleed.
And to inflict
The wound.

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About Emily

I may or may not have: A. Dirt B. Ink C. Paint D. Wool under my fingernails.

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