at that moment, she should have left

It was when she grew tired of counting
her bruises, weary of wondering
where they’d come from or when
they’d arrived on her translucent skin.
Small discolorations
imprints of moments
of self-loathing
carelessness and numbness.
Her skin was numb
her nerves screamed
her heart burst.

Maybe it was when the shark was in the water
bloodthirstily thrashing about
caught on the line.
It sprayed saltwater into the smoky sky
and the mist stung her eyes for a brief moment. Then
she remembered
she, too, is saltwater and it shouldn’t hurt any longer.
She searched the horizon for land
or another ship.

Or perhaps
it was when she no longer sang
sweet and sugary sad songs in the stillness of midday
when she no longer hummed along
to love songs that pierced her soul
no longer made lyrics in her skull.
Instead she found self-conclusion in her mind
dread where her heart should be
poppies in her eyes.

For sure it was when she’d become an animal
some wild thing trapped in an exhibit with glass walls
taught tricks to perform every hour on the hour
for only a small entry fee.
When she’d transmuted into a stone
locked in a room to hold papers still
or into a trinket kept in a dresser drawer
never to see the light of day.

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