sugar cubes and flaming tongues

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
For many moments,
I am convinced,
I am not even a girl I know.

I dance along to the beat
of this lie I’m spinning
as I swallow the spit in my mouth
(it’s not mine)
and my popping heat snaps against your skin,
closing the distance between us.

In one moment,
I am an open flame.
My flicker oozes a flirty crackle,
illuminating your falsely innocent eyes,
wide with fear,
or awe,
or something else I do not recognize.
Drip with something better,
If not desire,
at least wax,
as my simmer sears the confidence
you don’t deserve to have.
I will be the flame that dances alone,
I light the room,
and no hands touch me.

In another moment,
I am a wounded animal,
I bite.
I trade my sneer for a smile,
pretending my teeth aren’t sharp
and my lipstick won’t stain.
You fall for it,
the act,
not me,
but it’s not a surprise
when the bite hurts
and the red doesn’t come free from your collar.

In a new moment,
I am a hazard.
You would call me beautiful,
but trade it in for dangerous
when your cheek catches my fist.
I would land a punch on your face,
just to pull you in
and lick the blood from your lip,
soothe the bruise blooming in the corner of your mouth.
I won’t apologize,
I simply happen to you,
and then complicatedly make up for it.
Clean up my own mess,
and give you nothing.

I’m a hunter now,
and my bow finds you across the room.
I swivel my hips
like I’m gauging my sights,
my arrow meeting you in the midst of the crowd.
I aim,
dipping my body lower.
I fire,
arching my back.
I don’t see it hit,
I only see you melting to the floor
as I lick my fingers
and dampen the flame,
leaving you in a puddle at my feet.

My head lulls back like
a clock in time,
daydreaming about every way
that I could be a predator,
every scenario in which I am not called victim.

My mother says you don’t trust yourself with me,
as if I’m something precious.
This is why you don’t give in.
But let me tell you a secret,
if you look at me and think to yourself,
I wouldn’t want you in the morning,
know that you’re right,
but you can still be the high that holds me tight.

I turn,
dancing with my back to
you and my nerves.
My chest could kiss the sun,
I’ve never been higher.
All of my worry has sunk into my heels,
I’m barefoot and spinning,
and you only watch
when you think I’m not looking.
I told you a secret before,
but let me tell you another.
I’m a butterfly with eyes on my wings.
Some might call it a defense mechanism,
I call it knowing better now.
It doesn’t matter,
call it what you want,
just know,
I watch my own back more than you ever will.

I’ve been hooked on you all night,
finding myself lost in imagining myself as a girl who could look you in the eye
and not think of kissing someone who I do not want,
just to see if their love could stick.
I imagine your hands on the skin of that girl that I could be,
beneath her dress,
wrapped up in her hair.
My eyes are closed
and I see you leaning over her in a kitchen on a Saturday morning,
pressing kisses into her shoulder blades
and we would spend our days doing things that
people in love do.
I’m not sure what this means yet,
I only know that we would go to bed together at the end of every one,
tangling limbs together,
like the storylines of
Befores and Afters,
twisting into one,
packing our baggage into a single suitcase.

Reality forces my eyes open,
and I forget to look for you.
I don’t need to see if you’re still watching
to know that it won’t matter past tonight.
I am drunk on possibility,
and a distraction that melts in my mouth.
I know that with a single touch
of my flaming tongue on your skin,
you would dissolve in the swell of my unwavering heat.
It would linger sweetly on my lips,
like this daydream of mine,
but it would not last.

In this place where reality glows brighter
than it does right now,
I reach out my hissing hands
against your shoulders.
I don’t want to,
but I shove,
sending you tumbling back
to a girl whose skin is thinner than thick.
If they wanted to, they would,
doesn’t mean a damn thing,
and we both know it.

I am no one’s someone,
and in this moment,
it almost feels like Power,
except I’m drowning in the thought of that bed again,
and I only wish that my tongue didn’t burn,
or maybe,
that sugar wouldn’t melt.

My dress brushed your suit
as I slid by you on the way out.
In the morning,
my feet will return to the ground,
and your skin will be brandished
with my burn.
I do not apologize.

Once home,
my best friend sits with me on the bathroom floor.
It’s not the alcohol that’s getting to me,
it’s you instead,
it’s the man I want,
and can’t have,
it’s how they both warm their hands on my embers,
without getting too close.
She brushed my hair from my face,
feathering over my skin as her hand came to rest on mine.
“It’s not you,” she said,
meaning to be comforting.
She was right,
and that’s why it stung.

I am tired of living a life
where everyone melts
but me.