milk carton kids

Written by Emma Flynn
Art by Sushil Nash

a girl on a milk carton, baby dolled and pretty and kissable and dead. he took her away- momma’s making coffee; doesn’t anyone care that she’s gone? i flip her inside out and back again, milk seeps from my fingertips and pours from my eyes at the image of her scrawny body painted black and white.

the lake chills me good enough- a car on a beaten path clicks by and i try not to think of worms or maggots or printed faces flashing by on billboards. of girls in mary janes, of what they’d say at my funeral. so young, so bright. milk carton kid found buried.

dig into my skin. turn porcelain red, stain her vanity with tongues shaped like wordless promises. draw a man of larger wit than me, of men who bruise and kiss themselves bloody to swallow others whole.

a sow saunters by, she is fanned by inky lashes and lessons against bars after sundown. it rises like the moon, that desire for the dark. sharp air can cut up a lung quicker than a knife- dogs linger in alleys at night.

tell yourself it’s easy to forget. easy to sink into comfort when you’re no longer young and easy and so soft they can see you bruise. teach to me to drown in my own guilt- my kingdom for the soft mind of a girl, my life for the innocence of childhood.

bury her in a tomb of soil and leaves and senior pictures on the front page of the morning paper. her skin was never gray- eyes never cloudy- teeth never black. even bruised she smiles, even dead she breathes.

angels are born from violence; take the meat of love between your teeth and tear straight to the bone. love is a blue-blooded thing: violent men love in sicker ways. she likes to feel the gore of affection- what will destroy her but men who kiss gently?

he chars angel wings- snaps them between his forefinger and thumb and drinks the marrow with greedy tongue. her heart was soft between his lips, her blood was thicker than the pavement beneath his cracked fingernails.

everyone hears and no one listens. give me reason to hate like them, listen to mouths that can’t speak and lungs that can’t breathe. taste the sting of robbed girlhood, see faces with the memory of sin painted on milk cartons.

brutality haunts me; and the thought of girls in black and white, just like me.