It started with pin pricks in the delicate pads of my finger tips.
Soft flesh gives way, resisting ever so slightly,
to the pressure of sewing needles
sneaked from my mother’s strawberry shaped pin cushion.
It started when my fingers slipped, using
the sharp scissors, reserved for cloth.
Five years old. I just needed to
Cold steel slipped through skin. Then
smooth, soft, nearly imperceptible sting.
Enraptured eyes watched red droplets
pool in fingerprints and slip away.
Reverie interrupted by sounds in the house.
I put the scissors back in sheath and drawer,
and slipped finger in mouth.
That taste became secret and sacred ritual.
Rarely brave enough to slice flesh,
I pricked with pins in soft places on finger
tips and backs of knees, tongue tip
slipping sharp pinpoints under layers of skin
and pricking lips biting hard on cheeks
hoping, always, for blood.
Laughing over cuts in the kitchen
or legs sliced by razor blades with nervous
excuses because, well, I’m such a clutz.
Scars on hands and legs are easiest to explain.
Silvered pale lines in flesh of arms, of wrists,
of hips are less easy.
Small bloodstains on sheets invite questions.
It started with scissors, pins, blades,
and progressed to ink and needles.
Buzzzzzing of the tattoo gun, that
first quick prick and hum and scrape against skin.
Vibration generating heat, flesh becoming
raw, exposed, blood-slick.
I breathe in deep and exhale slowly
Reveling in the pain and transformation.
My body, now, a canvas for art
instead of a post for whipping.