the red:

Lydia Havens
Content Warnings
"a disease, a name..."
Dec 28, 2020 9:50 PM

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.                    

Embalming toothpaste                    

and different creams.

My mother calls it habit

My father calls it problem.

I call it something fairy-tale:                    


Biped wolf.                                   

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            

involuntary actions, 

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.