True, the first time I went willingly. What girl
could resist his leather pants
and rock star swagger, switchblade
in his pocket, my name
quivering between his lips? How better
to escape Mom’s pretty vines
than to sway in a poured-on miniskirt
across hell’s endless
dance floor while stretched skin
drums throbbed? My gut burned from pomegranate
juice and vodka. The goth house band keened.
Match light flickered on his skull ring
as he whispered smoky promises and blackened
bottoms of bent spoons. His touch
wiped out every ache or question.
My straight-A vocabulary whittled down to more.
Soon my dependence
angered him. He gestured
at my puffy eyes and flat hair.
Turned away with a slap.
Mother hauled me home.
A month in rehab, then a shopping spree
for high-necked shirts and
frilly dresses. Good-girl life
to slip back into like the cloak
I dropped on my way down.
Triggered by a song,
a whiff of sulfur —
in any season, broken
ground inside me opens. Memory
drags me back.
Put off by my pink
cheeks and filled-out limbs, the shades
won’t know me now.
I try to tell my mother what I saw there.
How I lived. All that’s over. Let it go.
My friends steer the conversation
back to hair styles and food.