Not Yours To Keep: A Poem

There was a time when I really wanted to know

Who you were.

And now you look at me, the skin underneath your

Eyes sunken in, hanging, embedded in layers of

Slowly degenerating flesh, and it feels like you are

Putting all the wrong cards on the table

Telling me about all your lives, saying “pick one”.


I ran behind you, the hands of a child chasing the ones

Of an adult. You had no life in your hands.

They let me go as soon as they could.

My fingers would smell of your cigarettes and disappointment.

Scents that I couldn’t put my finger on.

And I tried so hard to catch your attention,

Failing every single time.


I remember your naked body and I realised that

This bag of bones and flesh would never be able

Or wanting to protect me. This mouth would speak

Against me every time it possibly could.

These hands you would raise against me, the Southern belt sonata,

Those eyes would look at me in reciprocal disgust.


You’d repulse me less were there love between us.

I’d inhale you without feeling poisoned to the core.

I’d touch your skin without gagging.

I’d look you in the eye and actually say the words

That you never said to me in earnest,

That you had no idea how to say or feel or manifest.


You thought feeding me was enough.

Bullying me with every bite.

Discriminating against my body.

It looked like yours.

You abhorred yourself and

By extension, me.


You exhaust me still.

Every part of you aches in my marrow.

Every part of you makes me want to punch a wall.

And you beg, all crooked and crumbling.

You’d murder me in a heartbeat if you could get your life back.

grayscale photo of woman s face
Photo by Kalyn Kostov on



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