At first, there were long days of near-gratification
at the grassy edges when she let you. Though perhaps
she only feigned assent, worn out and familiar
with the wind-up. But how mild the finger, a tickle
really, a feather lashing, the promise to have and hold,
or when you met resistance, a lenient pressure,
meant only to encroach softly upon her reticence.

Now she bristles and dodges when your thumb
meets her skin. Pear-shaped tears ruin her mascara.
Concern, disquiet, offense—all collide with her blank stare.
When did your touch become her torture?

There is always a back story, the one she doesn’t
know or can’t remember, the tale she won’t divulge.
Once there was actual damage to her outer shell, a long
series of cuts and openings that bled without burrowing
roots. Later, the printed memory of violation became lodged
within nerve cells, sprouting axons at the dorsal horn
of her spinal column, propagating dire messages along
neuro-sensory pathways, nerve sheaths demyelinating
and surrendering, leaving the thinking lobes of the brain
entirely out of the loop.

You wish her no harm, only want what is considered
normal to want. She disagrees. It hurts, that’s all she knows.

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