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Four Poems...


After your skin bleeds they never really want you to come home 

I learned that when I drummed on the door My face torn by shadows and my skirt that I bought last summer too short 

I dreamt that I saw you and 

when you opened the door your lips still looked soft 

mine were cracked from the journey 

almost stinging almost bleeding almost red 

I imagined your fingertips on it on them I imagined them pressed between 

When I came home and you opened the door 

and you looked at me like I was a stranger I knew I’d changed and you knew too 

I remember the first time you pushed 

your palms against the side of my neck you flinched 

Like your sinew and skin had unraveled like it had all caught between something, flesh torn, a rose bush, you touched me like I was barbed wire Mangled thread 

You didn’t want me when I came home When you saw the space between my lips when it’s already been done by someone else’s hand when there’s no more secrets to unclasp no more bone to bruise 

But to me you were never unkind, just scared 

and you didn’t like stains 

you didn’t like having to catch a fall 

My knees were dotted in purple, done by cement from a street you’d never been on and you didn’t like that and 

I could never blame you for it not in sleep not awake




Blue Nights 

There’s an ache in my stomach that feels familiar A bitter pressed against my tongue Between my teeth I don’t feel any want anymore except 

for my own skin to feel like a blanket A shawl wrapped tight to the bones in my fingers, the side of my face, the places that I know how your hands feel 

I rake warm beneath my fingertips 

It’s the end of winter but I think that it feels 

the coldest now 

The words of a dead woman 

bleed and swim under my eyes 

it’s like looking at the sun 

I’m reading Didion’s Blue Nights again like 

I have something to mourn for that isn’t you 

or more like I have something 

to mourn for that isn’t what you did to me 

And sometimes when I close my eyes 

I see my own mother’s. I imagine her being 

able to cradle me. I imagine her knowing 

me as I never want her to 

But more often than that I see myself staring back at me 

It’s like a mirror 

All stained lips 

and smiles and the taste of red wine 

and tights I’ve ripped with the tips of my 


But when I reach Hands outstretched Palms 

wide I can touch her 

Our hands will scrape 

and feel like gravel and she’ll 

look back at me 

She won’t look away





I'm standing in the same places you once did. I think I can feel the time under my feet hum against the soles of my shoes I’m staring at the street corner in front of me so that 

I can remember the way that your teeth taste the way 

everytime you moved I felt like something was unhinging A cork pulled open wine staining the tips of my fingers the whites of your eyes hovering. I feel like i’m unpeeling something when I look at you it’s feverish but not because of the hot, because of the ache because when I see you I know too much: your breath the taste of it crushed and mangled doesn’t cost as much as everything that you’ve already given me and back then I thought it was good. I thought it was right. I thought you were like a key pressed into a lock I thought it was okay that 

our fingers never fit together I thought it was okay that when you opened your mouth you wanted to taste blood against the corner of my lips. My eyes glazed over, that street corner, that cement. My knees were the ones to always come away bruised but I think I’ve always been the one to want to come out of love bloody anyway.





You told me once that when I looked at you too long it seemed to burn. I remember that your eyes were half shut and your lips half open and I could see the ridges of your teeth, imagine the swath and pull of breath over it all. 

I told you once that in churches, a place neither 

of us belonged, 

that the light seemed number and buttery 

but it always seemed to suffocate me. 

Smoke wrapped tight against my lips 

settled over my skin. 

I keep having this dream of us standing at 

an altar but not for anything but a prayer 

and I only felt comfortable with you on your knees in front of me, fire cupped close to my palm. 

I've always wanted to be the only one to burn you. In the dream I can't see your face but I see 

your lashes and the shadow of them in cold 

church light and I see your mouth pulled 

up into a laugh and the same teeth. 

And I can't get that moment back, 

the one where you said that and I just laughed 

and kept looking at you. 

In the dream you always beg me for something 

and I never know what and I feel warmth sting 

at the fingertips of my hand so I press them closer to you. I imagine your teeth charring and your breath spilling out over my palms and the way you would look at me with tilted eyes. But then you say that if you could undo 

everything that happened to me you would, 

and I turn to ash and you to life and I still can't 

get that moment back from before. 

I think I’m really good at protecting the people close to me from the things that have happened to me and it scares me when I can’t. 

And that's what I want to say to you now. 

Because I can't look at you too long anymore. 

Especially when your mouth is closed 

and your eyes are wide open 

and you look at me like you see a ghost


Bio: Priya Ele is a New York based writer. She studies dramatic writing at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She's had multiple works of short fiction and poetry published and a play produced. You can find her on twitter @priyaeler

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