My skin was canvas.
Blank and free of blemish or defect of any kind.
I wasn’t perfect, but I felt like I was,
For a time.
You loved me,
So you made me your painting.
My skin decorated with deep purples and blues that bled and faded into yellows and greens.
Up my arms and down my back.
Across my cheeks, and in my eyes.
I always forget them.
What was once crisp egg-shell white, with two dark pools of chestnut-brown,
Was transformed to a faded yellow with roots of red growing from each corner, like a tree establishing its foundation into earth.
My eyes were always red. Always wet. Always burning.
Rain drops fell from them.
Blackness from my mascara fell from my eyes and formed rivers and streams that divided my face into three distinct vertical sections.
This was my war paint.
That’s how you wanted me.
A perfect portrait of your masculinity and power.
But your art would always fade.
How could you make them stay?
These marks and figures painted on my skin.
Symbols of your authority, were they not?
How could you make them last?
A task you took on with great conviction.
With time, my hardened skin no longer held the markings of your love like it used to.
In your anger a frustration, you eventually resorted to breaking this canvas you once loved to paint.
I could hear it rip, like the sound of a zipper. That’s how I remember it.
It was always a burning sensation I felt followed by the feeling of something warm and wet slowly seeping out of it.
Time after time it would always feel more or less the same, only varying by degree of pain.
My skin was no longer smooth cashmere.
I would run my finger across my legs and arms.
I would close my eyes, to imagine myself in another place, in another time.
To pretend for a moment that this skin, the skin I was so tired of living in, was someplace else, lost in a memory of better times.
As I ran my hands across my skin, eyes closed, focused on nothing else but that, I would breath deeply, and hang on as hard as I could to something pleasant.
Only to be brought back to reality by the roughness of scabs.
Scabs that you put there.
Into my skin like earth that has been plowed.
It was times like these that always made my heart sink.
It sank so deeply it settled in my stomach.
A process that would cue me to inhale deeply through my nose,
and think to myself,
Ok, now force those teeth out of your mouth in the shape of a smile,
Hold this expression…
…Keep going, you’ve got laundry to do.