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Age three.

with gangly legs like a doe you bounded

down hearing Mommy’s voice calling to you from the driveway

sticky juice fingers outreached

running down each step

and in the next flash you met the pavement

scratchy asphalt

jagging indents down your knee

you cry when you notice the hot tamale-colored blood

seeping pinpoints of red.

you’ve never seen anything so red.

So red.

it heals over in light white lines over your tanned knee.

Age nine.

with bunched up leggings and matted hair you

circle the playground in an endless cycle.

you’re the school pariah avoiding any

and every eye you see.

kids can be so scary and they make sure you know it

you wait for recess to end and in the meantime, you squish an

ant under your finger.

it’s fire red like blood.

Fire red.

even if you know it’s just some dumb bug you feel guilty anyways as you wipe

your dirty hands on your shirt.

Age sixteen.

with empty eyes and a weight in your gut

you spit up globs of filth and blood into the sink

and you press your fingers against your body to

try and hold your organs in from coming up

as you wash out your mouth

you hardly notice the water turning red.

Milky red.

the doors locked, and you check it twice to make sure

you find yourself asking the wall to hold you up as you wipe your lips

and smear the remains on your knee-

As if your mother could kiss that away too.

#CaitlinSullivan #poetry #20172018

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