Shrapnel

a million year old moment, smooth as a river rolled stone
hibernates under the nail of every one of ten toes and grows,
grows grows
stretches the flesh to a gossamer film across splintered bones
fills ankles calves tummy shoulders nose
until its polished edges – edges that don’t bluntly cut
or chafe, edges that are rounded with time and friction –
push ever outward from within, apply even, unrelenting pressure
from the underside of a toenail, the below of a bellybutton, the behind of the eyes
a thousand years ago I saw you destroyed
and I’ve carried your shards, sea glass now
at the very bottom of my self, the soles of my feet have for a hundred lifetimes
housed the once sharpest parts of your undoing, now sanded down along the ridges
how else could I have moved so far and for so long?
survival is simply the solitary process of dulling violence into palatable discomfort
and carrying it until it kills you from within
so still I limp
with every moment forward shaped
by shrapnel, and below my remaining wisps of skin I carry a seventeen-year-old cancer
that preserves the ache of a once blinding catastrophe
from which, in an earlier moment, I didn’t try
to see forward but I hoped you would be whole
and I hoped you would be full and I hoped
you would find pieces to replace the ones I carried as my own
and I hoped beyond any measure of what I’ve ever been worth that
when you shattered into pieces you at least didn’t
let a single one of them grow

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