Salve for the Living Thing

I am running my finger on the edges of a wound

That would heal if I only stopped picking

but it gives me something to do with my hands;

the busy countenance of an unsettled mind.

I peel another strip of skin back, revealing

More of the wound than I’d seen before

It is wrinkled pink and tender at the center

It is painful to the touch 

I spread salve on the worst of it 

Hoping to heal it,

(or at least to soften its edges)

all to speed up the process.

But healing takes an enormous amount of time, and

it is all but invisible to the natural eye–

Insomuch as every act of gradual change

Cannot be perceived, only felt

Plate tectonics in the ocean

Shifting subtly, moving continents

Fusions of tissue, old and new,

All part of the living thing– 

once that piece of me was broken 

and now, it is not. 

It is healed.

The day you came to my house, I was

already wounded, rough-edged, raw,

tender at the center, healing;

It hurt when you tried to touch me.

I still don’t know what you wanted,

Only that I could not give it–

At least, not how you wanted it to be.

And after you left I raged,

Replaying the scene to burn the blocking into my brain

running lines for words I can never repeat.

Picking at the skin until it bled,

I dragged my ruined heart through the glass of broken frames 

holding photographic memories of you and me.

And then, horrified by the gape of the wound,

I tried to seal it up, hoped to speed up its healing.

I said it was fine, even 

apologized for what I said

when I was wounded,

expecting my sacrifice to fix everything. 

But healing takes an enormous amount of time, and

it’s all but imperceptible while it’s happening.

Still, we spread salve on the living thing

Hoping, hoping, hoping


It sounds like a lie to

say “healing takes time”

when in reality

you have to

give it.

I hope you enjoyed this writing, which is really a return to my first love: poetry was my gateway into the world of words as a kid, and it feels really great to reconnect with that piece of myself.

Thanks for reading.

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