Temporary Vows

I hold two fingers to my head,
trigger my thumb, I say pow.
I slice my throat with a single stroke,
pull an invisible blade
vertically along my vein.
Remember the deaths we did together?
Twiddling oven knobs in the air
then thrusting our chins to inhale?
I loved you so much
during that experimental play
when you slowly leant forward to nick
your femoral artery then quietly
bled out in your seat until curtain call,
blood only we saw.
As well as death, we’d mime marriage.
I’d slide on a spectral ring
and you’d shiver at the thrill
of my thumb and fingertip
sealing the deal for a second till
the thought melted back into your skin.
I am proficient at beginnings,
the Air Year: the anniversary prior to paper
for which ephemeral gifts are traditional.
Only after our rings became solid
silver did they truly disappear.
Now the house is a mime scene.
Mime blood all over the floor,
trodden into carpet fibers,
shirts, bras, dried to an airy crust
under my nails. I slit
my neck at the traffic lights,
pow on the train, I suspend
my non-knife above my head,
“see what you’re making me do.”
Red whirls rise from the cuts.
All these huge thoughts come to
nothing. My shadow is
the chalk outline of a woman
who did not jump.

More Poems by Caroline Bird