“You could love this

if you let yourself,”

You beg me.

As if each kiss could

unfurl its petals and bloom 

soft pink on my flesh.

You’re all talk. 

You loll my name back and forth

in your mouth, like it’s a little rose 

pastille and you’re growing impatient 

with how slowly it dissolves. 

I adore you. 

And I’m so tired of you. 

Because you always curl into a grin 

when you tell me about the past. 

Each time you fold your hands over

my body, I’m clouded over by  

The image of another woman.

She laughs in my face – baring 

teeth that shine like knife blades, 

like mad eyes. Her joy shatters me.

She has you like I can’t. 

I’ll let my mind run away with me, 

say I could forgive you if only you 

could fold me up in your arms and

sharpen your breath for me, too. 

But I’m at the bottom of a well,

holding my breath inside a moment 

that will never happen. 

Because every time I fade 

into that vision, 

your rigid fingers push me

to the surface. Your lips shoot 

novocaine across my skin. 

On my back, I study

the blank white ceiling. 

On my body,

the galling touch 

of a serpent’s tongue. 


Author Bio:

Caroline Warner is a writer and editor based in Boston. She is a 2020 graduate of the University of Vermont, where she composed an undergraduate thesis consisting of a collection of poetry written in response to the fragments of Sappho.