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my mother told me

don't eat the pith

she always told me

but as a child I ate the world

and don't we all? I can only find the tender marrow

once I get through bone.

I wanted to taste bitterness

along with the sweet

let my tongue struggle

as it all caught in my teeth

my hands clawing at the things

that were wrong, always

cutting my waistband for being too tight

burning labels off

sneaking out of my room

so boys could tell me I was strange

for craving solace in graveyards at night

I would scrape my knees

on the gravel at gravestones

and use my nails to pick

the hard skin off my fingers

praying, praying

to find where my softness lies.

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