by Lisa Criswell

You hurt; I unravel.
You are only eighteen and
the years aren’t big enough to hold this

ache, so here are my hands. You tell me you’ll run
into traffic, so I knit my fingers to your spine.
You blaze with rage, but I’m still

in love so I bring the water; press
my mouth to the seam of your grief;
embroider your name under my wrists.

You give me a sliver of a promise
ring. You don’t want to speak
to anyone else – my ears learn

to sew together every sigh, every
growl. You forget my birthday
and instead your mouth pours darkness

all evening long. I unfold my ribcage
to collect it all. You cling to this life
by a cord I have to keep weaving

as my fingers bleed, tired
and torn and fighting to tie you
to the earth. I wish someone could

cast a rope into this well, lift us
to the light. I wish for a witness, wish
they could tell me: You can set down

these stitches.
This isn’t yours
to mend.

Lisa Criswell is a psychologist, calligrapher, and writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys long hikes and cozy evenings with her partner, dog, and cat. She relishes reading and writing poetry about healing, nature, and love. Her poetry has recently been featured in samfiftyfour.