Poetry / Dry Clean Only

Blades of grass pressed into her palms as she leaned back

His grin pulled her down to the ground, stronger than gravity

They collapsed under a canopy of green light.

Spring laced the air.

And they eagerly filtered jade evergreen dust into their lungs—

It was laced with the promise of more to come. 

The stains will not come out.

“But you said!” she whispered

The back of his hand cracked across her face to make her let go of his shirt

The sound sharper than the sting

She saw spiraling stars as her hand dropped in disbelief, ears red with shame

Mascara mixed with salt on her blouse

She looked down as he walked away

The scrape of his Vans against hallway floors harsh on her blushing ears

The sound echoed after her the rest of the day

When asked, she said “It’s stupid. I’m okay.”

The stains will not come out.

Silently she relied on a soft smile to slip under the radar at home

Her sister’s voice booming through summaries of her days

Excitement infused in every gesture

Mother and father leaning in, devouring every word

Until one Wednesday her mother reached for her sister’s hand

“Your father and I are getting a divorce”

Her soft smile slipped as her sister went silent  

She attempted to nod her understanding to the beat of her heart

Keeping time by curling her fingers into palms once green with sweet grass

Nails leaving marks unnoticed by numb hands

The stains will not come out. 

Second guesses trampled through her mind with megaphones

She stood looking out at the city below her window

Rubbing her soul raw against washboards

She didn’t know what to do with her hands.

She couldn’t afford to whitewash her state of delicacy anymore

Pay therapists to wring out and dry-clean her problems

Toss back medication that made days pass by in a vague haze

She just wanted to quit.

The stains will not come out and it's been six years

Whole paragraphs of her life story blotted out, colored by hearsay

Like they later tried to Bleach-blot out the bathroom tiles

But she lingers. And we miss her.

She stained our hearts with her laughter.

She loved and laughed and ran away

And I’m still trying to understand, even to this day.