Created by Emma Schuster

Always (only) a campfire guitarist,

My hands sift stiff through the strings.

Short fingers can seldom straddle the notes,

Through neither strength nor size

The fretboard seems to shrink my pain softened palms.


It has always been like this,

The shame of watching juvenile joints

Surpassing what my haggard hands

Could ever do.


It started in my elbows.

Blinding pain

Seeping through me,

Served the classic response

To a woman in crisis –

Snuffing out.


Later this would prove

To only stitch my muscles tighter;

A wound watch with stripped screws.


I remember sixteen:

Nerves shamefully seizing,

Calling my mom upstairs

To dress me

Her porcelain doll of a daughter

Fragile and fading.


She later would lament

Scaring insurers with brazen sobs

About the pens

I no longer knew

How to hold.



All my exams exist extracellularly,

Apart from the student body.

Forced to let a stranger stylize my scantron

And a computer spit out my sentences,

Sustaining strange looks

As I use the automatic buttons

On the doors

I seem too lazy to lean on.


Penmanship, that was never really there,

Falters with disuse.

My shoulders tighten through the abuse

I put them through

Because I am still too proud

To ask for help.


But I am healing.


I still hiss at the strain of cleaning saucepans

And the shame of standing

Infront of a sinfully slow swinging door.

I still drop things,

Unfeeling of the slip until I hear their sound.


I wonder if it hurts more now

To be loved

By someone who never saw any of it

Now that I am so adept at camouflage.


I have worked so hard to feel this good

And his refusal to acknowledge past pain

Is a blow to my suffering

My strength

My solitude.

But I will forgive him,

As I step out of my pride

And show him everything

That aches.

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