The Undue Acidity in Your Veins 

Chloe Clark 

The doctor tells us that I need

to learn how to cut into
my own skin 


“If she can’t do it now,

she won’t be able to do it

when she has to.” He says

to you and not to me. 


He hands you the scalpel

and you place it in my hands

and you look me in the eyes

and you don’t need to say

anything. So I place the tip 


just above my kneecap, don’t press

down, make a phantom cut up my thigh

in the same exact way you like to run
a fingertip up my skin
under my skirt
under the table
when you think no one is watching
my face. 


The doctor says “Press”
and his voice is exclamations,
“Make her press”
and you hold your hand above my hand

you press into me and I press
into my skin
until the blade brings blood
and my throat thrashes out a howl 


and the doctor says “good, good,

reward her,” and so you get on knees

lick the blood from my skin,
until the wound closes.


Chloe N. Clark's work appears in Booth, Drunken Boat, Gamut, Hobart, a previous issue of Split Lip, and more. She writes for Nerds of a Feather and Ploughshares, teaches college comp, and tweets about food and monsters @PintsNCupcakes.