Pearls

I would throw down my shield
and take up chains of words
some people wear
a crown of thorns
a medal of honor
or a scarlet letter
I pin on a tiny badge
and hope not to prick my fingers
as I play with the sharp edges
of safety pins

Yet some days I yield
to vanity or vulnerability
wearing a pearl necklace
little rows of flaws
cultivated in ribbed shells
presenting their emissions with pride
pried from their tight lips
like my story
painfully at first
then falling open
easily revealing
delicate interiors

Some nights I am the little mermaid
on borrowed legs
and burning knives
I dance
I sleep
I dream
I am free when the dawn comes
On the crest of a wave
Or the edge of a knife

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