by Jailene Cordero

She opens your chest—an incision with a small trowel snug in the grip of her hand. From between her fingers, she sprinkles seeds into you, dresses them with dirt, and retches water to fill your stomach. Her kiss, a small press of lips, doesn’t cement all your broken ribs. Rounded nails stitch the skin and leaves a shiny, pink, jagged scar from neck to navel.

On the tip of her toes, she orbits you. The sheer fabric of her gown burns iridescent as it rises and sets past her waist.

Roots puncture your lungs and cling, weak and unrelenting, to the veins of your heart. You grimace with a rushed breath and cradle your left arm over your abdomen.

She brushes your hair back and pulls your head onto her lap. Thighs sear the goosebumps from your skin—hush the tremors grinding underneath.

You look at her—the scleras swallow your irises.

She raises an eyebrow, and coos, “So?”

Comets and meteorites whiz behind her. “I adore you.”

She chuckles with you, though you aren’t laughing. She cackles at you and it spikes your blood pressure.

Stems grow taller and scrape your muscles. Leaves jab at joints. Thorns caress tendons. A stalk stabs your tongue, but their bright green paint smiles on her face.

Buds swell against your nerves. Petals fill the space between skull and brain. June or August? Mercury pools on your Cupid’s bow, but the red amplifies the glitter as she grabs the flowers and their sparkle refracts.

You try to whisper in a gust of a voice, but your vocal cords splinter. Kidneys overflow with tears. You open your eyes—gaze half-lidded and noisy.

She hovers over you, dimples deep in her cheeks. The white of her molars intensifies with the marvel of your withered skin. She wheezes, rabid, as you tint purple, blue, gray. The pungency of your body wills her lustrous. She rolls on you and a sound escapes the back of her throat—tensed, released, sated.

She buries your compost—no dirt under her nails. Beside her pearls and peridots, in a glass box, she stuffs the littlest of your bones.

You grow and expand, covering her entire property—from the front porch to the ends of the backyard. Cuttings of you planted in corner-stacked pots on the living room floor and hangings over her bed.

You sprout wild and away from her house too—into fields across small towns and bushes in giant cities. Colorful parts of you float on freshwater and smuggle into countries with the waves.

She bores in awe.

You’re in bloom.


JAILENE CORDERO is a Puerto Rican writer and digital illustrator. Before a story or artwork can be crafted and completed, an idea must strike. For Jailene, it’s images bursting in their head. With each scene change, the words and the strokes evolve, evoking the mental films into physical forms.

Photo by Airin Party from Pexels

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