Self Portrait

You hide hard conversations in your cheeks
Contort your frowns just enough
Place those burning thoughts beneath your tongue
Move discomfort to the back of your throat
Completely out of vision

You revel in your ability to conceal

Clench your teeth into a smile seething
With the pain of your truth

Eyes glistening

Gleaning compliments from passers-by
Comments packaged in innocent oblivion

They know not what they say
But you celebrate their empty words anyway

Push your gag and other reflexes to their limits
Press flat your vocal chords
And sing your songs silently

No one knows of how you croon

Gifting your lamentations to the night
How you leak after dusk uncontrollably
Of how you reassemble yourself
Order your dysfunction back into submission
Just before dawn

The way you hold your breath
Whenever greeting the day
Holding flames in your gut
Dry heaving in between glances

Knowing no one would ever truly understand

Blushing with heat
And blistering
Wistful and seeking water
In the acrid hearts of lovers
Who come

Only staying a while
Only to quench their own thirsts
Only for their sake

Leaving you behind
Scattered like debris
In the aftermath of their mistreatment

While others beg for your sound

Sit restless in anticipation of a testimony
They don’t even know they aren’t ready for

They beg for your truth

As if you haven’t already turned your teeth into a cage
As if your cotton-mouthed quiet
Was some sort of coincidence

Like they are worthy without brandishing trust

Their requests come harsh
Like cheap liquor after an impossible day
Inappropriate and insulting
Loud and reckless and too forward

So you smile painfully

Wishing you could release
Wishing you could let them in
Knowing they will destroy you once inside

You hold secure

Move discomfort to the back of your throat
Place those burning thoughts beneath your tongue
Hide the hardest conversations in your cheeks
And wait

For trust to set truth free.

— enigma

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