(i have kept your secret for a thousand years.)

my flesh has turned to stone, and i
wait patiently for courage.

my body rots in the fortress i built from the blueprints
you gave me the day before you left.
the yard is overgrown with weeds, memories,
and dead flowers.

my voice has rusted with lack of use,
and when i open my mouth to speak,
only creaks come out. i sound like a haunted house.

once i tried to tell our story,
but my tongue grew too big for my mouth,
and i was unable to get the words out.
you slipped into my brain
through my ear. hissed threats,
bribes, promises.

just don't tell. are you afraid?

i wrote the words in a weary notebook
until they meant nothing again,
or maybe everything.

it is because of you
that i cannot stand
to be touched.

you have slipped inside my skin,
worn me out like a metal spring
with no bounce left to it.

every letter you sent, unanswered,
weighs on my shoulders, adds
to the burden i inherited
from you, your frozen eyes.

i still dream of you, sometimes,
your face scarlet, the veins in your neck
bulging with fury. on those nights,
i wake up quietly. i do not scream,
i do not cry. i simply curl up on top of my covers
and stare at nothing, wondering
what it was inside of you that made you
do those awful things you did.

by the time i was old enough to understand,
you had sewn my lips shut
with phrases like love and loyalty and fault.
i found myself trapped
between your godlike strength and my
own inescapable shame. i couldn't remember
what it meant to trust,
or how to meet a person's eyes.

there are days when i wear my bones
with difficulty, hesitance, like
a pair of ill-fitting shoes. they protest
when i move, rub each other the wrong way,
scrape and twist and complain,
begging me to stay at home alone
and write about you, cry, until
the hollowness goes away.

"i have spent centuries in thin silence
protecting you from our shared past,
but no longer, no longer.
tomorrow the truth will spring from my lips
like so many shooting stars."

(this i tell myself every day,
but tomorrow never comes
and i am always so afraid.)