atropa belladonna

Something is wrong with me–
something small and dark is lurking
in a place I cannot find.

Maybe it is sharp, and pricks the fingertips
of men who dare to hold me close.
Maybe it whispers in their ears as we lay asleep,
a midsummer nightmare beat in racing pulse.

They spit me out, perhaps too bitter to stomach
in the emptiness of early mornings.
Perhaps they can feel my poison, this wrong-thing
that I cannot find.

It throws me into harsh and blinding light,
undoes that dark rose glow of nights spent twisted
together under sheets and soft words.

I am stripped to the roots, rot-soft
in spots where they picked and chewed
so eager to steal the sweetness they craved
when their eyes first found me.

Now I sit sun-bleached and raw;
My proud nature trampled underfoot,
under heavy hands and lips,
robbed of ripeness but still resilient.

[atropa belladonna]

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