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Skin is stronger where it has ruptured. I tore during labour but didn’t feel the stitches—my body produced anaesthetic, a response to pain.
Now, there is a small, silvery scar.
Like braille, you said, your fingers tracing, eyes on mine.
What does it say?
The broken parts of me fit the broken parts of you.
Things are supposed to be stronger where they’ve broken.
Kintsugi, you said, my beauty.
I do not feel beautiful.
The epidermis takes longer to heal as we age—a breakdown between skin cells and the immune system. I picked at a cut, shy of my clavicle, the length of your mouth. It blossomed to pink, a satisfaction of flesh, of blood. For eight weeks I peeled off the splintering crust with my nail, denying my body its impulse to heal.
I tasted the tannin off my fingers for two months, weeks in which I’d see you drive past, her smug form squat in the passenger seat, an essay in mediocrity. I sat there so often the seat must have traces of Eau de Givenchy and musk; once my legs trembled so hard you pulled over so we wouldn’t kill anyone: you made vows; the car stereo played First Day of my Life.
It is true: I am stronger where I broke. I wear the jagged line underneath my collar bone like a tattoo. My new lover asked me about it, as lovers will at the beginning. He is anxious to show me he is genuine, that his words have weight, that when he says love it means something different to when I last heard it. We had rain, a moon, records in bed; it made me a little sad that nothing is unique. I said it was so I’d remember. He gave me butterfly kisses with his eyelashes along its length, then travelled the path of my body. I felt a familiar honey, euphoria, a connection I used to think divine. Remember what, he said, biting me the way I like to be bitten, a cartography of kisses, and I told him, between animal sounds, my hands in his hair, holding his head, as the right song played at the right time, and I recognised how beautiful I found him, how curious I was, how in that moment enraptured, I told him, breath by breath, I said it was to remind me that the truth hurts, that all things go.
All things go.