Gingerbread House Lit Mag

To Return

I began to pierce
the skin below my waist,
slowly, the needle, looped
with locks of my red hair,

Stitch. Sew. Thigh by thigh.
Magic isn’t something
you can give back.

I took my time, but
my hands were sure
and didn’t shake.
Pale skin side by side
no longer able to divide.

I broke myself apart
for something I truly believed.
I know better now:
my scales were beautiful,
the heart foul.

Stitch. Sew. Knee to knee.
Cut. Bend back into
the waves. No more
longing from the shore.

I learned the ways of men
but the salt will cleanse
the blood of wasted years.

My unsightly toes I webbed twice
small incisions, amateur lines.
The sobs caught in my throat:
bursting vessels, the muffled prayer.

You must understand
the pain is the price.
My flesh embroidered with  
tiny pinking scars
to weave myself home.

Stitch. Sew. Cut.
It had to be done.

I left evidence of my reckoning
when I slid from the rocks,
the last gift land
will tear from me.

Let lovers speak of my
imperfect method. Tell
every girl you see:
The water never lied to me. 

Stitch. Sew. Mend.
I promise I’ll never leave again.

Cetoria Tomberlin

Cetoria Tomberlin is a poet and writer originally from South Georgia. Her work has previously appeared in Fairy Tale Review, McSweeney’s, and various other publications. Follow her on Twitter @Cetoria  

Artwork: Anna Dittmann, Siren’s Last Song


This entry was published on March 31, 2019 at 12:02 am and is filed under 35 (March 2019), Archive, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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