black and white tiled bathroom floor

Rusting Season

I dreamt my fingers were rusted,
blood oxidized inside the veins.
Tiny, sunset crystals
stabbed their way out of capillaries;
small fears clot in dusty blisters
beneath my skin.
Their cracks, canyons
stumbling across my wrought-iron hands.

From the fissures I hear diatribes.
My palms speak back to me
in voices not my own.
They cry tirades
from steely depths
railing against every word,
every thought,
I ever called my own.

I take a paint scraper to my finger nails,
slide it, corner first, underneath the tip.
With each slow shift of the blade
my finger rains rust on the bathroom tile.
Each grain some chemically twisted version of me;
fear and anger bound in every synapse.

My blood, the finest of powders.
My atria caked in my pulverized self,
ground down by hard eyes and vicious syntax;
stripped of identity and flesh.

I lift the handle, blade and nail come with it,
a satisfying crunch as steel scrapes rusted blood and bone;
the simultaneous ecstasy
and disgust
of decaying autumn leaves under foot.

This, my yearly raking.

Tilt my fingers, let the corroded self spill onto the floor.
One hand on the counter.
One hand on the wire brush.

Drag the steel across my fingers and with each pass
I clear away the silty cancer.
My freshly scoured, shining self,
exposed to the air and all its terrifying contents;
the words of others, their callous oxidants.