When you first approached me, I was thirteen:
a girl whose eyes were still lit torches and whose smile
was the unfurling of a rosebud before the petals
turned to glass. I still thought that the stars might
hear my wishes if I shut my eyes tightly enough.
I was still high off life, and didn’t need anything like love
to keep me going. You were a fleeting moment to me:
a vague memory of the boy at the back of the room,
of that time you cornered me after English class.
On my fourteenth birthday, you took me out
behind the school and shot a rocket ship into the clouds
to join those stars, a man-made wishbone, and you watched
as I crossed my fingers and wished to write poetry
that would make people bleed. I learned how to do that,
with time, as I learned the shades of the sky,
from blue to black, and how to paint them on my skin.
The flames in my eyes died a little bit.
I died a little bit.
When I was fifteen, I became Something Else,
a hollow something that made blood flow thicker than ink.
I made words out of ashes and ate them as if they could
fill the void, but still I starved and my bones cut through skin.
Eventually, I allowed you a glimpse into my coffin—
something brief and insignificant that meant nothing to me,
but so much to you. You liked my corpse. You told me
that it was beautiful, even drenched in blood,
even with maggots writhing under my skin.
When I was sixteen, you slipped a finger under the lid
of my coffin and I was too battered to push you away. My flesh
crumbled so that you could stroke my bones. Victory—yours.
Shame—mine. You called me pretty. Pretty dead girl walking.
You, the necromancer, trying to see into my soul—you were always
watching, a few steps behind my shadow. I tried to run
but you tied a string around my collarbones and so it became
a dance, pulling together and apart like the ocean and the shore.
You can’t blame the sea for the way the moon pulls.
When I was seventeen I looked in a mirror and tried to see
what you had seen: mysterious girl high and low off life.
My illness made your manic pixie dream. Maybe this time
you could be the prince, the saviour, if you could just cut away
enough of my rose thorns. I was the dragon princess with fettered
wings. What a wild ride! And claws! And teeth! Keep stalking,
keep proposing—one day she has to see how much meaning
she gives your life! Plot twist: I already had a lover.
The mental illness that drew you in left no room for you.
When I was eighteen, I looked into the mirror
and didn’t recognize the reflection you had made of me.
My skeleton shrugged you off and your fingers left graves
where they had broken through my skin. Being worshipped
as a false god when I was just a dead girl left me feeling
like there was a bullet hole inside my chest. I cut the string
but you were everywhere; I was your ketamine.
A girl with a matchstick mouth. Kindling. Spark.
A mad girl who sizzled.
Martina Dominique Dansereau is a girl-aligned (gender)queer writer from the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada, who spends the majority of xyr time blogging, snuggling snakes, and crying over slam poetry. For xem, writing is a vital part of healing from trauma and mental illness as well as a platform to share xyr voice as a marginalized identity. For over a year now xe has taken up performing spoken word at the Vancouver Poetry Slam and other venues, and xe has work published in the Rising Phoenix Review. Xe is passionate about anti-oppression, queering platonic relationships, radicalizing self-care, and going on midnight walks in the rain.