When I was newborn and pink-fleshed,
long before restlessness weaponized my teeth,
my hands must have been beautiful,
my fingers and nails unscathed.
I despise the taste of my own blood
yet I peel my cuticles back into potato skin ribbons
and lap up the vermillion pearls that bloom there.
Claret rivers pool into the carved crevices.
I am the anxious landscaper of my own body.
Thumbs bloody and gory,
pillaged by my two front teeth,
I carve myself like a Halloween pumpkin
until it is misery and tissue slivers
down my wrist on a crimson slide.
My shredded cuticles fall to the ground,
fragile as first autumn snow.
Robotically, I shear the flesh of my fingers,
moving layer by layer to what’s beneath,
the raw and meaty score.
I recognize it’s destruction
and ponder the skin I have lost and regrown since beginning.
My skin between my teeth, I pretend it is the first time.
By Stella Platero
Stella Platero is a lesbian writer with a BFA in Creative Writing from Marymount Manhattan College. She won the Dymphna Leonard Award for Fiction and her stories have been featured in The Carson Review. She enjoys horror movies, transgressive fiction, and hanging out with her dog.