She tore at her belly to feel what was inside
Found broken fragments of shells from the sea
A book with blank pages
and strands of hair.

There was a sickness she didn’t want to feed
and a starving monster that looked miserable

to feed
the monster
without feeding
the sickness

She thought to herself.

So she fed neither
And starved herself.


The fragments became sand
that would pour out of her mouth
The strands turn gold and wrapped around her wrists
the book filled with words she didn’t know,
there were tears on the pages
from where someone had pushed pen into paper
trying to make the pages feel
what the words described
trying to make the pages know the smell of iron that would fill your nostrils when you got punched in the face.
The taste of tears that would drown you when you tried to speak out.

was not what she had imagined
when she opened her belly.

is not how I want to live.

She thought to herself.

She fed the monster the cactus that grew in her heart
and waited for the strands around her wrists to loosen.
The golden handcuffs were beautiful,
but she was tired
and they were too tight.


The wildflowers had dried out.
The book was old and faded.
No one read the stories anymore, and so the stories no longer meant anything.

The sickness had infected everything
and the monster would cry
“Why do you leave me when I push you away?
Why won’t you feed me when I’m starving myself?”
Don’t touch me, stay close. Go away, don’t go.”

She fed the monster another cactus, and tried to remember to not look inside her belly again.

It had been too many sunsets
but today there had been a sunrise.
She remembered the beauty of the wildflowers
She thought about filling a new book, perhaps one with stronger pages.
She wondered if perhaps the monster would eat her alive.
She was afraid, but there was no depth outside like there was within her, and she longed to swim again.
Her eyes could not see the cosmos lightyears above her head,
but they were in there, in her belly.
She was afraid, but there was no beauty outside like there was within her, and she longed to see.

So she tore her belly inside, which was more complicated
and delicate
for there were scars you see.

And what she found were
Glistening shells from the sea,
beckoning her to listen, to hear, to remember.
A book with pages lined in hope,
so they could never tear
with the pain that comes with the taste of saltwater and smell of iron.
a field of
all the wildflowers
she had ever seen
and the ones she hadn’t
a field that went as far as she could ever see.
Picking wildflowers
was a monster
with gold hair

I ate the sickness
so the flowers could grow

the monster said.

“So now we can sail out to sea
and you’ll never have to worry about the sickness
when you’re with me”

And the ocean waved
and the wildflowers grew
And only she had remained.
And She sailed. And She knew.

The four stories were one
They were one, and the same.


Photo by Nea Hanna at Hello-Darlin


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