i come from women who are soft and severe
who press heads into bellies and kick when threatened
but if i’m honest it’s selfish
your skin is the only skin
that whimpers and stings just like mine
and when I want to unzip my body and leave
so do you
and your womb was the only cave
that ever echoed back when I screamed.

you lay crumpled on pavement
in the parking lot of the grocery store
because your legs refused to hold you
you winked at the produce man
as he lifted you up by the armpits
sat you on a crate of lettuce

when i was little and the lining
of your spine rotted like sponge
you told me that sometimes you just got tired
it was enough and we sat on a bench and laughed
during long woodsy walks

you remind me that you are not dying
but i am already
crying to tara loves johnny graffiti
in the library bathroom

on the other side of the phone
they are sucking out bad blood
injecting you with fresh plasmas
i’m telling you don’t ever go if you try it i’ll kill you
and you are telling me
everything is going to be fine.

JULIA RUBIN is a writer and educator from Boston. Her work has been published in CrunchableThe Breakwater ReviewHello Giggles, and others. She believes in the power of writing for empowerment, connection, advocacy, and social change.