blood blisters

a week ago i wrote a poem about a girl turned woman –
the daughter of a friend –
who tugged my hair into neat little rows,
made a 10 year old girl happy because
i didn’t have to wash or brush it for a week.
the pin pricks on my scalp every time she folded
another strand into the braid was a victory,
my striped head the trophy.
some times there were dots like blood blisters
in clusters on her arms,
other times i saw her teeth when she smiled.

five days ago girl turned woman turned corpse.
i pull my own hair to try and remember.
it doesn’t work.
i make one big braid instead of a dozen little ones.
it looks slick with grease, does not save me
a week of washing.

a clot small enough to rest on the end
of my finger stuck in the softness
in her skull, her mother finds her nested
in summer sheets, no dots like blood blisters,
but a baby cradled in the crook of her arm.

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(Day 1)

i.
it was slippery soft.
body goop hung in strings,
torso blotched purple like
grape skins.

ii.
it cannot make tears at first.
lungs to rival a horn player,
body smaller than a trumpet.

iii.
peeled grapes mashed.
it can eat them whole.
the mashing is for me.

Prompted

The woman with delicate fingers stops ten paces from the street
corner. Her knitted scarf looks hand done, perhaps by
a granddaughter. There is a chestnut leather purse over one
shoulder, the weight setting her skeleton off balance. She
sets the bag down gently on the sidewalk, and her arms disappear
inside it’s mouth. She looks to be scrubbing at its molars, searching.
It is hard to tell whether or not she has found what she is looking for.
Her mouth widens side to side, a thirsty bullfrog. At first I think she is singing. She is not.

She is wailing. The heavily lidded eyes gather moisture in the fissures
beneath sockets, she screams in Japanese. The only word
I understand is Kodomo. Child. She looks again into the bag. Perhaps she
placed its tiny frame amongst her perfumes and kleenex, its
fingers wrapped around her house key. Ten paces from the street
corner its body has grown stiff in her distraction.