She’s been sinking for days,
the ground a swallowing mud
she’s lost all of her shoes in.
On Monday she was waist deep in regret,
now it’s Sunday and the shame
is creeping up around her throat,
flecks of distance, good enough
and you should have known better.
In her need to be clean she draws a bath
perched on the toilet seat waiting,
nothing but time –
counting cracks in the ceiling,
tired of the solitary company she keeps.
Her filthy feet, cut and dried blood,
enter the water first,
followed by a gripped waist,
ribcage cracked with sobs
and finally her face.
Bath water gathers at her edges,
bubbles shrink pricked with oxygen
she struggles to exhale.
The tiles ask her for all the names
she was called today,
the taps drip condolences
in the gaps between her toes
and the porcelain sides swaddle her
as her mother’s womb once did.
A smile slowly ripples across her face
as she is scalded;
her goosebump flesh prickling to red.
She could drown in steam and bubbles
a hippo in a river,
a pig in mud,
a survivor and a giver
rubbing her scars
with dirty bubbles and salts.
By the time she makes her exit
her skin is puckered like dying grapes
and there may still be words
behind her ears,
decisions still clinging
to the roots of her hair.
But she feels cleaner,
braver, in spite
of the bruises and grazes
water cannot wash away.
Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar & Sudden Denouement, and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.