Old Flame


When I told him the inside of his knee was a sacred place, a beautiful thing, he scoffed at me.

It’s just a knee, he said.

Had he see the pictures?

The same pictures the orthopedic surgeon showed me in the waiting room in early morning after it was over,

smiling at the results of his artist’s hands,

the delicate reshaping of my lover’s left knee damaged in an accident?

Inside the jagged edge of meniscus had been carved off to look like the inside of a Greek church—smooth, creamy, white domes

of quiet, grey, cavernous spaces

as dark as the corners of an attic a girl would not dare enter

without holding the hand of her best friend

I said it to the surgeon, too: beautiful

and secretly decided that special place, that knee, belonged to me and needed my protection

I’d claimed other damaged parts, too—

the crinkles at the edges of his eyes

the solitary angry burn on his right arm

the delicate pink scar between his collarbones.

Turns out that knee was the only place on the inside

with all its apparent mysteries

I’d ever be permitted to see.

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