By Mallory Abreu

I used to sleep
passed out cold. 
Liquor curdling my blood
on a Tuesday dawn. 
I’d wake and cringe,
every fiber of me shrinking 
from the light. 
Kick off the covers,
wanting so badly to not be
present in my own body
that I couldn’t stand
to feel their touch. 

Numbness was existence
the breathing alone, painful,
so when darkness dropped
and nothing was left to feel
but my own pulse, my own 
organs skittering beneath my skin,
I chose nothing instead. 

Eight years have gone by
since I told you to stop
and you told me I was wrong,
that I’d really like it. 
If I passed you now
you wouldn’t see me. 
I see you
in every waking moment
and every lucid dream. 

But years go by
and the body learns 
that memory doesn’t need
to keep its home in a scar,
in a face,
in a bruise 
that never fades 
and never listens. 

And still I breathe. 

Now when I go to sleep
I hold my body close, 
feel the sheets cling to hair
rising on my legs. 

Now I wake
to feel the sunlight warm
on my temples 
and tears
cool on my face,
not from you,
but from the ache
of realizing

I am still here
and yearn to feel.

Mallory Abreu is a 26 year old creative writer and magazine editor. The body of her work centers around poetic justice stories; pieces that speak to personal experiences, while commenting on broader social issues that revolve around family, loss, sexual trauma, and her queer identity. Often, her poems take a single, short-lived moment and draw them out, dissecting the beauty of seemingly mundane actions and the impact of impulse decisions. A native New Englander, she currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa, where she works as a journalist covering design and the arts and as a piano teacher. Follow her on Instagram for her latest poems and music. 

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