a memoir of scars

i have scars on my face:
from when i had chicken pox when i was four and i scratched myself so badly you can still see it today
from when i swing hit me in the mouth when i was in kindergarten; five stitches
from when he left me and i carved my face open, under my eye; permanent teardrop
from a night when i just felt like bleeding
so a red river fell down the hollow of my cheek

on my left hand, white and gaping
when my mother saw it healing she cried and said
“baby, you needed stitches.”
i walked away from her and we never talked about it again

my wrists still ache sometimes
from slamming them into

and even picasso couldn’t have imagined the lines
on my wrists
and the colors—the whites, the reds, the pinks, the blues, the blacks
van gogh never knew
the twisted labyrinth of barbed wire
crisscrossing the hallways of bone and vein

broken letters screaming
glare up at me in broken white lines from my stomach, my hips
and i know that they are reminders of the blackest nights of high school
but mostly they are reminders of who i am and who i choose to be

my hips, my thighs
the essence of my curves
stretchmarks and scars
not much to say about it—
it was easy to hide
and it made walking really, really hurt

a gash on my leg,
as thick as my thumb
the next morning it was still gushing
my best friend fixed it up in the school parking lot
with old bandages from an even older first aid kit
her fingers shaking
my clothes were already stained
dark brown bloodstains that
no one noticed
when my mother saw the scar years later
she said, monotone: “you should’ve gotten stitches.”
and she walked away
and we never talked about it again

my scars do not
define who i am
nor are they unimportant
they are a part of me, as vital as my organs
as visible as my eyes
as loud as my voice

my scars are not who i am
my scars are where i’ve been
and what i’ve seen