by Belinda Roddie
I'll set a timer
and see how long you hold me
until your arms get tired
or I start sweating too much
and cannot stop the shaking.
Beads form across my nose:
the warmth is there, but fleeting,
and, once felt, it hardly leaves a mark.
When wiped away, its shadow dies.
Across the water, boats somehow
keep floating in the storm. You press
your face against the window, the glass
shielding you from the rain. I stay rigid
on the mattress, knees bent, toes curled
like talons, hands hugging my own chest.
I cannot feel my own heart beating, but
I know the rhythm is, strangely, constant.
I do not hear the timer
go off. You say you want to put
your arms around me again. You want
to protect me from the barrage of information
streaming from the outside world. Text, code
imprinted on my skin like tattoos. Once
read, it's remembered - nothing less. I feel
a pinch between my shoulders and think
I might die sooner than expected. But not now.
Not here. Not as long as you embrace me and
time decides to give me an extra hour tonight
before the daylight exposes my scars again.