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Woodwork -- poetry by Katherine Dyal

I know you don’t care what my body looks like,

But I give myself new scars every week to see if you’ll notice.

I know you don’t care that I can’t breathe,

But I hold my breath anyway to see if you’ll realize I've fainted.

I dress myself in my prettiest colors,

But you’ve seen naked bodies, and besides—

I’m a pyromaniac.

I lit myself on fire and pinned the sparks to my eyes,

But I never shined any brighter to you.

I’m stuck in with matches, pockmarked and bleeding.

I’m silent and crying and cynical and dying.

I’m so fucking hopeless—

and you are married.

I’m freezing, and you have a coat,

But it might be outside the proper boundaries for you to give it to me.

So instead, you smile and say, “Thank you, ma’am!” all the damn time,

And the world shines like sunlight breaking through clouds when you’re in it,

So, what can I do but grit my teeth like jagged bits of broken mirror as I smile back?

You’re an antique on the shelf, burnished and untouchable.

You’re a regular Galileo, but the stars revolve around you,

and you don’t even know it.

You're a magnet in the center of the room, and I'm helpless in the face of your gravity.

I am paint chips and powder, empty bottles left on the floor when the night is over.

You are the night that I lost myself in.

You came out of the woodwork, and I sunk back into it.

I waited and waited to become something more than broken.

I waited to become anything that you might want,

and the clocks slowed down and stopped working,

and the wood rotted and collapsed around me,

and time left my skeleton coated in dust,

But I am still nothing.


Katherine Dyal is a high school junior from Lubbock, Texas. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Teen Ink Magazine, and Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine. When not writing, she loves studying history and listening to classical music.

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