Love Poem to Risk

May 20, 2017

after Catherine Pierce
You move over my chest like the swab

of iodine before the scalpel. You are the fourth
shot of whiskey at a party I leave too late, the heels

I wear walking home after dark, and the man
watching me from the other side of the street.

When I was thirteen, you made me pack a go-bag –
toothbrush, Walkman, second-favourite dress,

a note for my mother that said I’m better off
gone. You’re the reason I can leave anywhere

in under five minutes, always a carry-on stashed
under the bed. But I I’ve never stopped seeing you

for what you are: the siren’s stuttering keen
and the storm cellar’s loose hinges,

both the lightning that doesn’t feather
my arm, and the charred ground beside me.

You touch your teeth to my pulse
and claim nothing good happens without you.

I still can’t say you’re wrong.

Emily Rose Cole

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