I spilled ink on the floor, damn it,

and left it there for a year.

I would look lovingly at it

every so often,

and it would look lovingly back;

perhaps we’d have tea.

But then one day,

one black, anxious day,

I thought I should clean it


“It is better to be in my towels,”

I said.  “Better to rumble through

my washing machine.

Better to get in between my fingers

and in my hair.”

And yes,

it did like being there.

Even I didn’t mind it for a while,

looking in the mirror and pretending

I was something great,

my ink stains living through

bath waters and sprinkler systems.

The turning point is always feeling trapped,

the day I realized I could not get them off,

could not clear my skin of their

ethereal concoctions,

could not wash their beleagured soot

out of my scalp,

without cutting off my own


29 thoughts on “labor

  1. I am soooo curious to what your writing process looks like. I seriously love everything you write, and you inspire me to write more!

  2. You have skills. I like this… Reminds me of the entangling, romantic and often tortuous vocation that writing can be! Very passionate piece.

  3. I. Love. This. It reminds me of how I always start writing ‘a novel’ or ‘a book’ and then lose hope halfway. Then I’d come back months later, wonder why I ever stopped and pick it back up, only repeat the cycle again and again. Seriously, I love this.

  4. Fucking awesome — in the true dictionary definition sort of way. Truly solid image that flows end to end, and then sails beyond. Nice work.

  5. Ah–you can’t remove something that is so much a part of you. You’d have to bleach it from your DNA.

    I’ve always believed it’s better to highlight what makes us stand out, and you, Ms. S., surely have ink in your blood, stain or no.

  6. Your poetry is always interesting and evocative, with much talent and a dark playfulness.

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