Spoken Word / Chalk Dust Memories

I used to sew my heart on the sleeve of my sweaters

Even though I had to close my eyes

I was afraid of needles

Heart on my sleeves

It made a nice accessory to the bracelets adorning my wrists

Additional protection to keep them safe from my numb hands

That still insist on absentmindedly wandering over areas I once traced with blades

I sewed my heart on every morning

Till it was nicked by a passing lover on his way out the door

On the eve of a new year

An exit stage left, highlighted by fireworks and dampened by booze

I carried on, too enamored with the toothy smile sliding up my face in the mirror

Whiskey colored my cheeks and brightened my eyes

Burning away tears before they could think to emerge

Forgot I was bleeding out

My heart paled, streaking red to pink

I thought my lightheaded-ness was a result of the cancerous butterflies metastasizing throughout my body

Bored of tickling my stomach lining

I never considered the symptoms of blood loss

Too many feathery wings and antennae were pollinating the synapses of my brain with dopamine

I failed to realize their legs had been dipped in stomach acid

It made my head hurt

Blurring red filtering my vision

Reminiscent of the rosy spectacles of childhood scotch-taped round my head by my father

For the days when I played hopscotch with shadows and didn't chase after sunsets

Their darkness smudged powdery chalk grains smeared on my pants

At 22, I still find the remnants of that chalk still clinging

I rub the colors along my cheekbones

Not for war paint but to make paint whenever ghosting tears make the colors run

Use the vestiges of these colors to hide the circles ringing my eyes

The shadows now find they like hiding in them

They've moved on to playing hide and seek with my probing fingers.

The contrast in colors is stark

It was only recently I finally looked down at my heart

Perfectly deflated

I tried to sprinkle chalk dust on it to bring color back into its veins and arteries,

Patting and pinching it back into shape

I snipped away threads of my sleeve

Cradling it till I found a mason jar where I could hide it away--

I have to admit I forgot about it

Weeks sprouted wings, flying by till a new city ran through my veins in a new year

I came back sorry

And had to slowly coax it out from the jar

The raised lines on my heart made my breath hitch with guilt

For leaving it so exposed

But as I looked down, it peeped out from between my fingertips and over my thumb

Abruptly leaping up,

Dancing along pressure points to settle back over my wrist

Beating hard as I looked up to see the bartender back again, leaning in and grinning

Refusing to let go of my hand.