Content warning: This piece includes mentions of self-harm that may be triggering for some readers. If you are in crisis and need on-campus support, call NU Counseling and Psychological Services at 847-491-2151, or please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

I smear my palms with oil paint
To stain my skin with toxic color;
Dull blade of the palette knife,
Scrape vermillion poison into the cracks
of my flesh;
The water strains through my hands
Like long streaks of city street lights
On rainy midnight asphalt.

I try to prove my own existence
Knee-deep in raw winter water,
Or with a knife taken
From the bottom drawer
While my parents are sleeping –
The smell of hot blood
swirling with sink water,
Metallic curdling in my nostrils
wake me up;
Tragedy on white porcelain.

In the mirror I look at my edges
Blurring into the wall behind me:
Tell me I exist. That I have
a body. That the scars on my arm
Will be memories
Of what has passed,
Though it may come again