May 25

the monster that hid beneath his skin

her father was killed by monsters before her birth,
or at least that’s what her mother always said.

sometimes her mother would find herself begging
her daughter to sleep beside her in order to
fill the empty space to the left of her in bed.
her mother often whispered stories of her father
when the daughter was supposed to be asleep,
the daughter would hold her eyes closed and her ears open,
she would feel her mother settle down on the side of her bed,
barely disturbing the sheets and begin to use her
satin voice to explain in the only way she knew how,
what happened to her father.

sometimes her mother spoke of the raw hands
with fingers as long as tree branches
that grabbed him in the middle of the night,
packed up all of his things
and took him,
without a sound.

sometimes her mother would whisper,
and explain that her father was strangled,
and as the life left his eyes
the hands pulled every bit of goodness out
of his heart and left it on her doorstep .

first they went for his liver.
filling it with poison until
he was drowning in it.
they tore at the purple flesh of the organ
until it was of no use to him.

next, his lungs. dragons sang
hot breaths into his mouth
and his lungs burned inside of him.
it turned his teeth yellow and his
hands rough.
that’s why his breath always reeked of smoke,
it was dragon breath.

sometimes the daughter would wake out of
her insomniatic sleep to the
sound of her mother crying,
she always wiped away the tears of his absence.

then, it was his hands. they turned
his palms to copper and his fingers
to steel. making his hands heavy
and full of hate.
he couldn’t always control where
he swung his fists.
but when he meant it,
his metallic hands would always
connect with their target.

this storytelling went on for many years
until the mother’s tears stopped
and the daughter understood.

one night her mother fell to sleep alone,
unaware of the empty space in her bed.
the mother let sleep fill her
like hot tea after a long, long day,
and that night both mother and daughter knew 
a kind of sleep that neither of them 
had known in years.