Paper Lips; Red Poetry
By: Shannon Flaherty
I love my scars (it’s the openings that I’m ashamed of). White lips parted in whisper,
fingernail shreds pressing through paper skin trying to get inside.
(Or: part of me trying to escape).
I count them like piercings, like cold colourless tongues tracing love letters
I cannot read.
They are the swollen outline of a palm pressed against a car window; the musk of stiff
denim unearthed from a storage bin; the whisper of someone unremembered; the white
blink of rower’s blades across
a glassy lake, now now now.
Remember: knees bent up to your chin,
fingers of rain crawling through lace,
a neighbor’s mold-slicked fence post held your spine.
Traded it a patch torn from your back (the colour of red wine-stained lips)
for angry marks where your bones could hide
and a view of headlights in the rain.
Rust groaned over the hill in the distance– your brother’s truck.
You made a list of how to begin:
1. the world scares me
2. this sadness isn’t mine
3. am I close enough?
4. fix your damned muffler
You chose the last one, smirked when he did,
stared through your face in the window.
Now: quarters rattle in the cup holders
but without moonlight, silver is just black.
Still: the planets slide around like
marbles on a greased countertop
the robin swallows a thread from your dress
the next morning and your
tongue whispers red poetry
to your teeth.
Shannon is an outdoor educator and artist on Vancouver Island. Her notebook is filled with illegible observations of people and plants, rushed sketches and sand. Shannon’s poetry and prose have appeared in a number of publications, including Eber & Wein’s anthology Upon Arrival, Cede Poetry and Island Writer Magazine.