I curl each clammy tentacle like pasta on a fork
And slide them down my back to forge a spine.
Spandex shorts take all my crooked pieces:
Knobby bunions and bulges of slime,
And mash them into not-quite-legs.
Building my body from tension and folds of fabric.
Crafting a face of foundation and bronzer, lashes and blush.
I blink fifteen pairs of eyes
And force them shut with Sephora collection makeup tape.
I meet you at a picnic bench
For finger sandwiches and sweet tea.
You hold a hand that is barely a hand,
Beige latex, iron rings, and force of will.
I am fighting so hard not to hurt you.
You press your mouth to scarlet lips
I built from scratch with putty, liquid liner,
Lipstick and glitter gloss.
The life I’m clawing for
Is peach pie in the summer
And lemonade off the back porch.
It’s feeding ducks on long walks,
Strawberries bursting between your teeth like skulls and
God, no. Not now.
Please, not now.
Your gentle fingers tuck it back behind my “ear,”
This wriggling, gelatinous thing you think is a lock of sweaty hair.
I want to go to work today.
I want to go to work today and smile at a woman buying peaches.
Take my break at sunset,
Pop a can of Crush open out back
And let the orange sky fizz on my tongue.
Don’t let them give me back into the darkness.
I’m tired of the screaming, eyeless mouth,
Maggots writhing in my stomach,
Praying for the ending of it all.
I want to press you to my chest under the blankets,
Where darkness can be soft as cotton,
Warm as suns exploding.
I know there is madness in the mist upon the hills
And wrecks beneath the water,
I know the universe expands much faster than you think
And every atom in your body yearns to stretch and fill it.
I know the cans of Crush are $5.83 for a twelve-pack,
But if I open on time, Kenneth will toss me a free one from the cooler.
I know that Urban Decay setting spray
Will keep my face in place against your pillows,
Make sure you never see the mottled mask beneath
Or guess at the horror it’s hiding.
I know I love you—
That for you I’ll sand the sharp edge
And hide my putrid flesh—
And every atom in my made-up body yearns to go to work tomorrow.
Kahlo Ruth Fromm Smith is a graduate of UCSB, where she conducted original research in cryptozoological museums and sex magic churches. When not hunting Bigfoot through Santa Cruz, CA, she can be found feeding her Venus flytrap, Hydra.