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I still have the hospital band in my jewelry drawer.
Maybe that’s morbid,
but there’s not much else I have.
I don’t have much else to show
for years and years of pain.

It's hard to get people to believe me
when my scars are so internal.
As long as there are no marks upon my flesh
I am simply a healthy, functioning adult.

There are no bruises left
by years of trauma-
No bruises the eye can see;
Phantom bruises.

The phantom bruises don’t heal the same-
They don’t fade over time,
but rather fester inside of me.
The phantom bruises transform
into phantom necrosis.
What was once alive in me
has turned black.

Though I am only half living,
no one else sees.
Pain lies beneath the flesh and even so,
there’s no X-Ray machine for trauma.
If so, wouldn’t I bear the burden
of a lead apron every day?

Come to think of it, I have several hospital bands
saved up in those drawers.
If I had saved every one, I could fill a whole dresser.
I can’t quite tell
if I should let them go
or continue to keep them stashed away.
How do I let go of a part of me-
A part of my past-
That makes up my whole?

Phantom Bruises