Sometimes, it's hard to retract my stainless steel claws
and refrain from ripping your very essence
out of your size-0 body to have it for myself.
Every crevice on your body that carries no malice,
every mistake you've never made,
every syllable that you easily sent rolling off your tongue
and into the hearts of all your admirers,
every ounce of fat that you don't have,
every smile that does more damage
than I could ever dream of doing in years.

I claw at my stomach, dream of stapling it
over itself, glare at my thighs, imagine them
to be twigs instead of trunks, scratch at
my stretch marks, hoping that wishing would
be enough to make them disappear,
smudge the mirror right at my torso,
I envision myself shrinking like a sweater in the dryer,
tumbled around to knock the ugly out of me,
I cross my arms to cover everything I hate,
I wonder how anyone could ever love me.

Every time I promise to love myself,
I cross my fingers and make excuses.
In the mirror, I try to see any good in myself,
any shining quality, some talent to make up
for the shuddering limbs that make up
my being, I unconsciously use make-up
to make up for the absence of anything worthwhile
harvesting itself in my being.

But he tells me that I am beautiful.

I try to wrap my head around the idea
that such a word could be used
to describe something as bitter as me.
He tells me that I am beautiful,
and every muscle in my body
clenches and unclenches in protest,
not in modest denial, but flaring up
in objection to such a falsity.
He tells me I am beautiful,
and I tuck the words into the bag
of other escaped compliments he has uttered
that I don't believe.
I treat it like a suggestion box, a survey,
things I should be, but don't have the means to achieve,
a personal mirror that's permanently slanted and cracked.
For I am nothing more than an unoccupied
hotel room, empty as the bottles on
the nightstand, nostalgic as the wind
that wraps itself around the
balcony handrails, abandoned as
the furniture left undusted and alone

I pushed him away like the rigid shore
refuses to embrace the tides,
but then I ran and plunged myself into a pool of lava,
allowed myself to sink,
and drowned in my own self-hatred.

I managed to convince myself that someone like me
couldn't possibly be responsible for the inflammation
of his heart, that dedication
was out of the question, that
I should ignore the elevation of my heart rate
because I'm so used to aggravation and frustration
in the midst of my desperation,
that the "less than threes" in his texts were
nothing more than polite punctuation,
that his compliments were nothing but an obligation
just compensation on your part for all my flaws,
nothing but commiseration.

I twisted every action, every glance into something that
would undoubtedly make me come undone.
I regard this manmade valley between us,
as well as everything else having to do with him,
as another regret. He didn't deserve to suffer with me.

All my regrets are knocking on my door,
I had tossed them out without a second glance
into the blistering winter snowstorm,
but my latches are being broken down,
already rusted and weathered,
my fragile glass windows have all shattered,
my walls have been torn down
I struggle to welcome these reappearances with open arms.

In the mirror,
All I see is someone worthless and broken,
the darkness in my eyes shrouds any bit of light
that could have remained after the battlefield
I had so recklessly rushed into.
So I shatter the mirror to match the reflection
and drag the shards all over my body.
They leave punch lines, insults, reminders
ugly poetry scribbled all over my arms
of how I hate everything I am.

I pull out my hair,
pull,
pull,
pull as if each was a mistake I've made that
I could somehow erase from my dirty past.

I can't find the strength to scream for help.
I am a cup about to overflow with
the blood that I've shed trying to make myself
the person I've always wanted to be.

I'll someday find the strength to speak,
and my voice will echo back at me,
sounding hollow and unfamiliar,
but audible, nonetheless.