Bruised Bayou and Other Poems

Image by Miranda Chao



You didn’t need a shot of
whiskey to leave that bruise
on my leg. When I had
surgery to remove
precancerous cells from
my cervix, it didn’t take
a drink to push me down
and punch me.
I tried to leave, to run
when the opportunity
arose, but you grabbed
me, marked me blue
and purple, and stifled
me until it drove me
insane into the psychiatric
unit of an urban hospital.
I wished my body were
water so when your
hands came at me your
fingers and palms
slid through me
returning to you,
to your cumbersome
frame filled and thick
like clay. Your rage
grabbed ahold of me,
threw me into the wall,
and I fell onto cold
concrete. Like battered
dough, swollen and
burning, I craved for the
family portrait, but
found a torn photo,
cracked glass, and a
broken frame instead.

Walk on—I wanted to
—be gone—I needed to,
and yet you’ve tethered
me to the lies you tell—
you’re different;
you’ve changed;

it’ll never happen again.
I wanted you still
after all these years,
needed you, after the
illusion of closing
the space between us,
which continues
to widen beneath a
mirage of heartfelt
connection, but one
day I’ll vanish
like snow melting
on pavement, and
you’ll realize just what
you’ve broken and lost.



I watch myself like a
film, a black and white
old movie wearing
mommy’s lipstick playing
dress up, a miniskirt
too loose I can’t keep
it around my waist,
boys pulling my pigtails,
shoving me off swings,
my first period then
chasing after boys,
rubbing benzoyl peroxide
and salicylic acid
into my blemished skin,
I hate my black brittle hair,
small breasts, thick thighs,
stupid grin in school photos,
I cut myself like torn jeans,
a hiked up skirt for
good looking bad boys,
undressing in the wrong
backseats of cars,
spreading my legs,
starch white skin
exposed, smeared glitter
eyeshadow too dark to
wear around my parents,
hiding provocative
clothing underneath
hoodies and sweatpants,
now boys chase after me
in my heels, my teased
up hair hardened with
styling spray, what is

that number worth to me
on the weight scale
as I step on and off,
on and off, watching the
dial change numbers,
fingers down my throat,
swallowing laxatives,
shoveling food off my
plate into the potted
plants beside me,
one day I find myself
standing in front of
the mirror letting the
filmstrip flicker and
slide off reel,
let it burn into the
flame of light, melt
away, and the essence
of girlhood appears from
peeled off layers
down to my core, I
become unearthed in
daylight, I cut each
frame and reorder the
pieces of the still
projection in blurred
photos, to misremember
it all, to wear white on
my wedding day,
to put the bride and
groom on top of the cake,
to rub my baby bump

with the bassinet in the
corner, to represent
a colored portrait,
so I can undo my past.



Olivia Lin DeLuca holds a BA degree in Psychology from Thomas Edison State College. She is a writer and photographer. Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as aaduna and Five 2 One Magazine. She has always loved reading and began writing consistently in early 2014 when she decided to pursue her childhood dream of being a writer. Olivia resides in Pennsylvania with her husband where she devotes herself fully to the writing craft.

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