At first she seemed to like

that I came to her dirty,

a little unclean at the edges;

my sweat was fresh and worked for,

smelling of life and death,

and something in between.



Then – for some reason – I began

scrubbing the crescents of earth

from under my mean nails every night,

until they almost shone like meat,

using her heart-shaped soap,

scented with oranges, while she lay

in her bath-tub, watching me, waiting.



And everything changed.

Everything does, slower

than you can see; those edges

get rounded off and rinsed away,

leaving something lessened or hollowed out,

no longer like a heart at all.


first published in Firewords, issue 5, 2015