The first time I spent the night
I was high on someone else's coke
& never mentioned it because I know
romantics need to believe in becoming
constellations, not cautionary
tales. I never told
you what number. Couldn't trust you
not to braid every hair left behind in my shower
into a noose. You loved rope. Loved twisting
my arms behind me, leaving bruises
from the weight of your hands.
If you're going to choke, never go
for the throat. It's the chest that begs
weight. Look, blood pooled like a fist
around the heart. The first time
I was afraid of someone I loved—I can't tell you that.
Not because I don't know. Because I don't remember.
I don't know where this tree was planted, if it's a tree at all.
Let it be a cactus instead. Roots running shallow
& wide. The last of the good
sex was had over the phone
while you were in a hotel
in the desert & I, terrified
of what heat spells
as it rises.
I woke up
on fire, which is to say
drenched in a way I prayed for
but never expected to arrive.
The last of the good sex ended
with me telling you how I wanted to hurt
& making you listen while
I ate the glass of every dead star.
Emily O'Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Dreginald, Five Quarterly, and Split Rock Review, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books' Pamet River Prize and she edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.