How to Heal a Bruise, How to Keep Cool, How to Read a Room, How to Explain Yourself, How to Dream Better

by Flannery Rollins


How to Heal a Bruise

He asks me if I'm bleeding while the moon is our witness; the hoofprints linger across my chest;
a few sit on my neck; all of the hoofprints are friends and chat about the weather while I sleep;
each one is somber when another one fades; they gently remind the new skin that this cycle is
natural; natural like the moon's shadow at dawn; natural like a lover in a room with curtains; in
the morning, my hair is dripping with orange and sweat; I was a horse and lost in the sheets;
someone brings me a cup of coffee while the sun stands by, desperate to peek through the
shades. By the time I try to write this poem again, all of the hoofprints will either be dead or
flying north for the spring; I say this to a mirror and believe her.


How to Keep Cool

The sun threatened me first. I never trusted his eyes, the glare he left over my thighs. My skin all
dead wallpaper after he leaves. The shine of my chest in every reflection to this day. Is the poem
too vague, for you? Let me clarify: sun poison, but with a fist. Think about how a scar glows.
How skin jumps when promised something. His fingers combing through the collar of my
sweater. I am trying to understand. When I leave, everything will be clean. So I swallow the
elephant. The sunburn peels some more. My breathing stabilizes as his apology cools the
room.  I hope you understand now.


How to Read a Room

I wanted to write it down but my phone stayed glued to the dashboard. I had an idea of where we
were going until the sky decided to sleep again. It was dark and the sunset was all coffee
creamer, so we got lost. I see a cat running across the street and realize she's a fox. This keeps
happening. The way I'm staring at something and then it just turns. Turning like a cable in my
hands, but then the cable grows teeth. So I get kind of curious and wrap the aux cord around my
neck. Now, you're gazing at me, and I'm filling my cheeks with vowels cause it feels good. And
I'm listening to you because it's easy to listen. It's an urge I get, to sink inside a voice.


How to Explain Yourself

In another life, I've never known you, but you know me. Instead, I'm waiting for you to turn, and
become something new. Maybe I'm waiting for the 2 Line, scrolling through the news on my
phone. The news makes me sad, but the news of the new you will be different. I create an outline
of you while my own form gives way. One could argue that this is a way of measuring time; the
longer I stay the younger I become. This morning I am sixteen with your cock in my mouth; I
can consume anything if I try.


How to Dream Better

We aren't birds. Instead, we're people. People with hands that don't hurt each other. Although,
who am I kidding. Put your arm through me. I fit like a sweater. You can wear me out like this,
like clothing. I can be patterned, knitted. Maybe I am dry clean only. This is so much easier than
the alternative. Death by conversion to a sweater. It sounds extreme only on paper. Where can
my hands go, when all they want is to keep something clean?


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