the judge

You hiss in my ear

and black whispers crawl through my body,

slicing me open from within so that i flood with red.

i try to plant gardens of daisies in the roots of my lungs

but gardens don’t last forever.

with the black whispers comes the putrid smell of rotting flesh and decaying gardens

and my daisies drown in a whirlpool of my own blood.

i tiptoe around the darkness,

terrified of creaky floorboards,

of too-loud footsteps,

of the breath i exhale through my mouth.

when i reach my bedroom door i sigh in relief

until i feel the sweaty pant against the back of my neck

— the judge

Contact Chantelle Lee at [email protected].

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