The Black

by Meaghan Ford

I have had so many lovers.
--half the world!
My name sighing out of their throats.
Yersinia Pestis,
Little safety pin,
The Great Plague

I was kisses traveling on the wings on fleas
The coats of rats
The softest taste of metal in their mouths.
Before they even knew what I was they were in my arms.

My beautiful children
Such frail, peach blushing skin
It was begging to be canvas
Screaming out for the stroke of my hands

I couldn’t help myself.
My mark is all
Over you
Blooming with black bruises from all the times we touched
Sun kissed freckles and rings of fever flush
The blood curdling in your stomach

I loved you like the spring
Like you were all the warm days I never knew
Gripped knee shivering in cargo holds
For the promise of a new world.

I am a song on the lips of children in a school yard
The echo of wood wheel’d carts as they groan through your streets
A wrist smelling like dried flowers at your bedside
The last stunted gasp your body will twitch with
The blanket they will wrap you in
And never let you go.