My first love is sitting at the edge
of my bed. I wet a washcloth
and clean the blood from his open temple
as he holds a bag of frozen peas
to my bent, distended arm and tells me
what it’s like being dead.
Something about waiting for a train, looking
for someone you used to know, and
needing an unbroken bicycle.
His head will not stop bleeding, yet
my ligaments and veins proficiently stitch
themselves back together while we talk--
I know he can’t stay. I’m readying
him for whatever comes next,
even if it’s nothing.
He is wearing a white T-shirt.
I pour salt over the bloodstains,
rinse the shirt under cold water
in the kitchen sink.
I stand in silence, watching red
stream down the drain.
Outside, he is on my bicycle,
riding towards the tracks.
Kim Ellingson holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles, and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lost Balloon, Wilderness House Literary Review, Prometheus Dreaming, and elsewhere. In 2020, her work was shortlisted for the Cagibi Macaron Prize in poetry. She currently lives in Milwaukee and can be found on Instagram @its_a_lemon_tree.