What’s left of me is ragged lace,
more absence than presence,
gnawed upon but not consumed.
I forbid you to pity me.
If you impose sympathy
with those I’m sorry for you eyes,
tart disdain will salt your gaze.
Instead, reach below O poor leaf!
to ask yourself ‘Where am I torn?’
‘Who would recognize me if they knew
how fragile the web is that holds my flesh together?’
Once you have opened the gate
that isolates my suffering from yours,
I will accept empathy from you.
But only then, mind.
I might even tell you about the time
I believed romance meant total surrender.
And you can describe the trusted beloved
who professed support but undermined from within.
As we share stories side by side on the forest floor,
let’s strengthen our arteries together,
arching them upward without apology,
neither holding the heartstrings hostage
nor concealing our corporate wounds.