I.

their paths first crossed in a staircase.

he tall, muscular, as if he could hold someone down
and get away with it.
she only she, with fires banked
and an ache to get out of her skin.

the ropes first crossed three weeks after,
tattooing stories on her wrists, ankles, thighs.

afterwards he would let her clean up
as he smoked, the ashes falling so quietly
on to the coiled ropes.

II.

it went like this:
she never said stop
and meant it.

III.

they would meet for play
and at the end of the night,
all they had was burned.

the Cornish hens he'd tried to truss for dinner,
their little wings flapping like heartbeats.

the back of his throat,
from worshipping that cancer stick

her lips,
the vestiges of tears still smacking her tender.

the fingers she kissed
as he pressed her against the refrigerator.

the fingers that trussed her as delicately as the hens,
ropes crossing across her shoulder blades.

she bore the stripes for hours,
and the blisters for days.

IV.

it went on like this
for quite some time,
the ropes and things
living lives of their own
around her.

she got out of her skin many times,
losing it all between the cross of the rope
and the menace of his growl.

he smiled, and tugged the knots closer.

V.

and one day it came to an end.

he simply stopped.
coiled up the ropes,
and said,
"Who told you to expect more than this?"

VI.

it goes like this:
you are not supposed to fall in love.
but so very frequently,
the fire is much too hot,

and little girls get burned.