a disease, a name
I cannot remember. It pulls
at my cheeks like an aunt I never
liked. Kisses my lips, stains me,
doesn’t put me in the washing machine.
I am some kind of new territory.
A power struggle. Fluid.
I squeeze at my face, and dead white fish
fall from underneath my skin.
Turn to crimson, then—
They gather in pools, not rivers,
and I do my best to hide their carcasses.
I bury them in water.
Shrouds of washcloths.
and different creams.
My mother calls it habit.
My father calls it problem.
I call it something fairy-tale:
The bad witch.
No one seems to understand
the body doing
what the body does
when it's not pretty to look at.
My hands have become
always looking for bumps
and thin skin to pull back
until regret has a rubbing alcohol sting.
I always promise myself,
I won't do it again.
But hands don't listen. Hands don't know
how to stop.
Sometimes I wonder if this can be classified as anything
other than a hoarding of body—
a hoarding of shame.
LYDIA HAVENS is a poet and editor currently living in Boise, Idaho. Her work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Black Napkin Press, among others. Videos of her spoken word performances have been published on YouTube channels such as Button Poetry and Write About Now. Her first full-length collection, Survive Like the Water, was published by Rising Phoenix Press in 2017. Lydia currently works for Big Tree Arts Inc., and is a member of Boise's 2017 National Poetry Slam team. She really likes exclamation points and lizards.