by Mikayla Mislak
He looks like a baby bird.
His shoulder blades push against
his skin like they’re wings that are
still growing. The knobs of his spine
are a ladder in his back.
I press my hands against the little lumps, climbing
down the stepping stones in his back.
I want to untie the knots of muscle in his shoulders
that cause him to ache. The spaces
between his ribs feel empty, like how snow
melts in my hand and leaves no memory.
His chest is a closed door, a warning
not the enter, but once inside
I can sit by the hearth and be warmed by the embers.
My fingers trace the scars on his body
so many of them are from his brother, who liked
to cut him whenever he didn’t want to play.
I trace the scar on his side, the one slashed through
the place above his heart, and the long one
that sits just beneath his collarbone.
I touch the last scar the most, as if I am trying
desperately to imbue it with my fingerprints.
I hope he notices
how long my fingers linger
on these pale white lines.