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The Piercing

by: Barbara Christina

There’s a place
For the numb
Who flock
Like lusty mosquitoes
To flickering neon signs
And grimy store windows.

It’s a dingy fortress
Of peeling paint
And dusty shadows,
A haven
At the fringes
Of society’s
Demure skirt.

There’s a man
Behind these walls.
He’s decorated
With inky scars
And torn skin
Embedded with silver
Like shining shrapnel
Meticulously placed in
Ecstatic self-mutilation.

It’s said this man,
This witch doctor,
Back-alley surgeon
Can find your pain.
He can mark you,
Transform you,
Undo you,
All at your request.
Cash only.

This threshold
I’ve crossed alone,
My resolve
Not attenuated
Despite the sweaty bills
In my pocket
Enclosed in
Trembling fingers.
He knows already
What I need
Before my voice
Has time to languish,
Waver, or dissolve
Into the hum
Of fluorescent light
That depicts me as wan
In the warped mirrors
Decorating the room.

He guides me
Into the back,
A private chamber
Alive with graffiti
Crawling on the walls.
I convince myself
I’m not frightened
Anymore.
I want this,
I always wanted this.
Besides, I paid up front.
I won’t turn back.

There’s nobody to see us,
To stop us,
Interrupt us,
To save me in case
He hurts me,
Goes too far,
In case it gets
Out of hand.
Or to rescue me from myself.
But I’ve been
Insensate for so long,
As if doused
In Novocain,
And I don’t care any longer.

I know what’s to come,
The tool he will use.
He takes it out,
Shows me,
Assures me it’s clean,
Asks me if
I’m nervous.
I’m not.
Truly not.
Just do it.

He touches the spot.
Here? He says.
Yes.
Ready? He says.
I guess.
Ok, take a deep breath.
I oblige.
He looks into my eyes
Then grabs me, the spot
In a firm grip
And pushes,
Penetrates, thrusts,
So slow, tantalizing.
I feel it, all of it,
Every inch.

The sweet sensation
He awakens in
My nerves
Standing on end
Through every
Erect hair
On my body
Is exquisite, real.
There’s a puncture,
Almost a pop,
A drip of blood.

I feel him
Slide it in.
Hollow shaft,
Surgical steel,
Needle through my skin.
He pulls it through
The other side.
I feel it glide
Through my flesh.
The hurt,
So damn good
To feel at all.

With another jab,
A ring goes in.
My metal scar,
My shrapnel jewel.
I wince, I cringe.
My body
Throbs around it
Like a little heartbeat
Born in my wound.
Already I want more.
A yank, a twist,
The ring is closed.
I’m done.
No regrets.
I tip big.
Until next time,
I want more.