as she swallowed her regrets

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when i was eleven mama taught me how to check the expiration dates on a liar's tongue; so i'd lock myself up in the bathroom all night and scrub away at my tattooed mouth with stolen hotel soap (it always managed to leave behind the taste of unburnt napalm). the morning after the vigil-kept night, i'd hide my bleach-blonde teeth behind a frown only to stain them again with half-chewed red herrings at breakfast. mama at the frame of the door would pluck the opium-drenched poppies dangling from my lower lip and dust the fire off the hem of my jeans before i could even catch a whiff of the rubber-burnt school bus.

but mama, i had my fingers crossed behind my back the whole time

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