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