We showed our scars for the first time
And shared the wounds like love letters,
Revealing some of the ways we were marked forever.
Our damaged bodies pulled through the years
Like scuffed toboggans, baring fading remnants
Of ageing hurt, the colour of fine red wine.
I went first. A cut through my cheek
That slits my face faintly with a sickle curve,
Reaching in and around, playing hide and seek
In the allure of a sanctuary thorn bush.
My cheek flapping open like a new mouth.
You went next. A sunken bite mark arm
And the memory of mousetrap dog jaw –
A small dog, you reassure me, no pit bull –
Just a colour-blind limb like a juicy bone
And a family pet the size of your powerlessness.
The wound went deeper than mine
And I returned serve, my hand tentatively
Sliding further down my body,
Pulling up the bottom of my shirt
To expose a keyhole belly slit
And a young boy, curled under his bed
Like a foetal, dead caterpillar.
Wailing and dog-whimpering
With tremors and appendix aftershocks.
A body like a burst, useless organ.
But you reached out, touched it.
Read the raised, twitching belly scar like Braille.
You pushed your fingers into my hand
And guided me into your mouth.
You pulled your bottom lip down like a drawbridge.
I pressed my fingertips into the pink
Hiding behind your lip. It was bumpy,
Like grit clumps, rock lumps, van velocity
Embedded with a tarmac impact;
Your body skating over the concrete
Like a pebble skipping across water.
Your tongue didn’t flicker any words. I saw
Hospital beds, IV drips. You held my wrist
And aimed next for knee cartilage –
Gently, gently, careful. The glistening
Skin like a surgically cut crossword
Of incisions and hard answers.
A bystander telephone call mapped out.
Your mother’s phone hitting the floor
Like cobweb echolocation,
Searching for her baby. You said nothing,
And I had no worse scars.
You said more nothing and hid more hurt
In other places that I could never see.