The first time, you peel the dress from me
with practiced hands,
trace the ghost of an incision
from the nape of my neck
to where it pools in a hollow above my butt.
You do not look away.
The night you’re admitted,
I sleep in a chair,
buckled in the blunt posture of crisis.
Trace sigils on the backs of your hands,
kiss the creases of your elbows, sticky like crushed peaches.
I call my therapist from a public bathroom,
ask her what I’ve done wrong.
This is not about you, she says.
Later, I curl at your feet like a dog, dopey and adoring.
Cannula and cord tangle around us.
Your cannibal lungs gurgle and you spit blood.
I do not look away.
Caroline Shea is a poet and editor living in Burlington, Vermont. When not actively avoiding hypothermia, she serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Vantage Point magazine and dreams of one day living in a pet-friendly apartment.