To reduce my suffering,
you will place finger and thumb carefully, lay
the strong crook of your hand
in the vulnerable valley below my windpipe
applying the same pressure
you would to the neck
of a champagne bottle - releasing
the stuck cork of my fear gracefully
a tiny flourish
in your final thrust,
before we both spill over, frothing
in sweet dissolution.

To reduce your anxiety,
I will cradle thick fingers between slender ones
guide your hand gently to the bottle -
because you don’t drink
anymore - but we both know that
you want to.
We both know
all the reasons why -
even if we do not speak of them.
We repeat our lines as often as needs be
memorizing roles, while slipping
into character; we don the costumes
of our past selves.

And, we can replay this scene
as often as needs be -
your hands, violent criminals
my throat, a helpless victim
this body: perpetual crime scene

and savior, both. Always
both. Always
reborn
in our own aftermath.

And, I will pretend death with you
as many times as needs be -
while you still refuse
to kill
the black widow, spinning
over your bed -

you said
she wasn’t hurting
anyone.

Your hands, no longer anvils
smoldering vise grips.
My glass backbone, molten
your blind fingers trailing
through braille history - stippled skin
beneath your calloused palms
while we relive the past
as darlings - ghosts
of all the little deaths which happen
but do not happen fully;
vessels which burst and bruise,
but also heal -

a dry toast
to our own survival.