Echinopsis

When my abuser put his hands on me
I had two choices—become small, turn

inward, and wilt like a flower (I am not
a flower. I am cactus. I may prick

whomever I touch, but I will never harm you unintentionally. Please know this. Please.

While you were outside catching rain
through your fingers my mouth was

open swallowing the blood. Know this: I am sometimes a forest fire. I burn everything

in my path, but you, darling, are not
made to be an ember, some creation

of my destruction. You douse my flames,
hum my burns, whisper my smoke away)…

When my abuser put his hands on me
I had two choices: to bloom or wilt.

How beautiful is a cactus in bloom.
You cannot touch it.

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