I have devil's water running through my coal-veins. Every morning, I get up and touch the mirror just so that I can fall into the reflection. Every change branded into the underside of my skin so that I can see their bitter stones sinking slowly through the uncharted rivers of my body. I am a fašade. I am a lie. I have swallowed hearts and slung love at walls of destruction just to watch the plumes of smoke rise up the city atmosphere. I have watched my crumbling capillaries tie together into hangman's knots, my lips dyed red with lover and enemy alike. I worry with every bloodied swallow, with every collapsing groan - oh lover, I worry you are next.
If I were anything but ash and molten hopes I would worry too. But I have lost myself in the cracks between desperation and shame, and now I find myself drowning, pouring out your devil's cup into my wanting throat. Scalding my teeth, numbing my tongue, twisting my spine until the heat of it breaks me down, and knocks me out. I am falling into dark dreams, and all the walls are painted with your curves and your oaths in a language I no longer recall.
I am a reverse phoenix who finds eternal death instead of everlasting life. You see, life is survival of the fittest and I am nothing if not a survivor. Life is survival of the fittest and I am the strongest one of all. I have fed and found nourishment in despair. My life stained with regret that even the strongest bleach cannot rid me of. Excuses may bubble in your throat, but I know the truth. With every day, this second skin stretches tighter and I can hear the monster bubbling under the surface. I wake in the middle of the night and run wild-eyed down the street with bloody footprints in my wake. Running from the fear that one day I will turn on you, find myself with my teeth at your throat, my knife at the tenderness of your belly, my gun pressed cold against your temple – and that, oh that is just a thought I cannot stand to bear.
My inverted acceptance of your shadow-terrors and night-screams is a madness. It is a jagged nail pressing into my thoughts; crawling, burying, squirming into my skull. Stealing its way into the soft underbelly of all that I am and unraveling my sanity. Behind my glazed eyes your venom spreads into the gray, and from the inside I burn. It eats at my veins until I am empty. hollow. broken. But there, among the scars and the bones, though I drown in my own silence, though I am riddled with holes and torn from navel to throat: my dementia distorts and becomes something more.
Your eyes glaze and your mouth thins. These are the things I notice in the morning when the sun slants through our windows. I can't help but notice the scratches down your slender torso – the red marks that mar your otherwise clear skin. I have put them there. Like the puckered flesh under your jaw and the burn behind your right elbow; these are the battle scars of what the world calls love and we call war. When the world looks at us, all they see is lovers with dipped heads, mouths praying gently against one another, but we know the truth. (We know the vases against the walls and the shuddering cries against throats.) Still, when you sleep curled loosely next to me, touching my hip nervously as one might tenderly hold a trigger, I cannot help but love you. I am to blame for this battleground, this warzone, but still, I cannot help but love.
In the aftermath of every struggle you believe your vicious tongue and ragged nails leave me dizzy, weak and raw. But you'll soon find that this is the silent annexation of everything you've ever known. You pour your malice and your violence past my lips, gouging canyons into my skin and thinking, always thinking on the damage you have done. But you have missed the whispers in my coughing, the secrets in my fingers and the poetry I dripped into your blood. So hush now and listen:
A demon cannot stand the flame or douse the ancient sun.
Love, you cannot win a battle, if the war has not begun.