love at the hem of a girl in flames

it will be years before I can bear the echo
of my own breathing against the walls

in my chest. in the future, childbirth,
photographs together with a man I never knew. a moth

flies backward toward its flame.
I will be well into my thirties before

I stop wondering if I am beautiful
while gazing into the low eyes

of total strangers.
smoke from a single cigarette

stains black rings into the ceiling, I make a mental note:
ash falling up is how to find the girl on fire beneath.

it will be years before I learn
how to heal alone in small slivers of space.

about how the stars are conceived in reverse by
gods tearing slits in the ocean to peer at the earth.

it’s been years since I broke through the silence, or
first pulled on a black dress to

bury a lifetime of bodies
in a hood of dark trees.

I fold my hands beneath my chin as I learn there is a name for everything
except the name I was born inside and cannot stop

repeating. I’m dancing and catching your wounds in my mouth.
unsure if it is love or just finally quiet.

in a way i am still young, still on fire, still losing myself at the soft hands of seasons.
and even though we rise warm like summer mist

as you slide your fingers along my fingers
make love like two shadows, flickers of promise in the evening,

it will be years before we learn
to call each other safety.