Aesthetics, Spoiled

I imagined myself as fragile,
and maybe I was, but
only in ways that worried me.
I wanted to be thought of as delicate,
to be spoken of in hushed tones. To only appear
in blush hues, through veils, through lace.
I saw myself shimmering – pearl-sheened, pale-edged,
slick with glitter and full of champagne.
I touched nothing but satin, velvet. I let nothing
touch me. I ate nothing but rose petals until I turned
pink. I watched my body in mirrors, in still water, until
it wasn’t my body. I watched myself being
watched, in reflections where I was glassy, crystalline.
The word fragile became sharp enough to split a seam,
crack a rib. I bathed in milk and honey until my fear
soured everything. My cream-colored lingerie
turned pink with bloodstains that wouldn’t
wash out. I worried about who was to blame
for all of that blood, for staining
everything pink. I thought maybe I was
just flushed from too much sun; from running
away; from a slap to the face. I wondered if
this meant that I had ruined everything,
and in the worst way. If all of this blood
is mine, I am sure I am still to blame.

Christine Barkley is a writer based in the Pacific Northwest. Her poems and personal essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Salamander, The Journal, and Little Patuxent Review, among others.

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