I began to bleed when I was nine and became afraid that someone might see, so I never spoke of it: ashamed of myself for becoming a woman when the world seemed to despise us so. I discovered myself in the echo of mirrors when I was thirteen, dissociated but whole and no longer forbidden, from feeling my worth, from touching my body. I traced my jawline in the glass and smiled with chiseled teeth: pronounced, finally, and gaping with promise. I became a connoisseur of deep sunsets early because I saw myself in the way the day bled. Give them all to me. I’ll swallow them whole as the earth does the day, my scarlet throat working: shades of confidence betraying the youth that taught me to be afraid of what I could be. I am now thirty-three, fingers tracking the valleys of my hips, sorting through the weeds of my bush, rising over the hills of my breasts: blushing from use rather than shame. My name is now a prayer caught on the lips of lovers, tongues finding my center, tasting: still, I bleed.
Ashley Sapp (she/her) resides in Columbia, South Carolina, with her dog, Barkley. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of South Carolina in 2010, and her work has previously appeared in Indie Chick, Variant Lit, Emerge Literary Journal, Common Ground Review, and elsewhere. Ashley has written two poetry collections: Wild Becomes You and Silence Is A Ballad. She can be found on Twitter @ashthesapp and Instagram @ashsappley.