Burning Giraffe

They painted me blue when I wanted to be any color but.
They took away my tight-fitting clothes,
the ones I picked out myself,
and placed me in a hospital gown that stopped right above my knees.
They propped me up every time I fell
(and during that time I was in a state of perpetual falling)
with yet another brace,
hastily painted blue to match the rest of my unconditional self.
They made sure to stand far enough away that I had to reach
but never close enough to hold onto a hand or two.
They didn’t lock the tool chest that night and
made sure I knew the razor blades lived
in the second drawer from the top.
I took one out and sliced into my leg at the top of my thigh
and then all the way down.
I tugged and pulled at the incisions until they slid out like drawers and I piled bits and pieces of myself into them
until I had to strain and push to keep them shut.
To satisfy the cliché, I cut another over my heart
and that time everything fell out on top of their shoes.
They sat and watched the rivers of blue pour onto their feet,
then scoffed and turned away,
but not before muttering about my failure at self-annihilation.
Once I laughed at the innocent image of a giraffe frolicking through the savannah and the sound infuriated them so much
they set it on fire.
Then just to make sure I stayed blue,
they painted over my mouth and watched as it dried,
as it pulled my lips together and cracked with every twitch
and at every attempt to emote.
I would have used my eyes but those had been erased a long time ago.

Rachael Gay is a barista and recent graduate of Hamline University living in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her work has appeared in fēlan and Errata Magazine.

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