on cleanliness by Serena Devi

it all adds up:
knuckle cracking
soda drinking
skin picking
too much of anything corrodes eventually

I’ve picked apart all my clothes at the stitches
without even thinking about it, I am
always trying to get out of something

it is hard to feel clean most days
even this week,
I have:
been followed by strange men halfway down third street
said things that came too straight from my gut
caught too many lungfuls of secondhand smoke
sat on a curb til the asphalt flecks got embedded in my thighs

young skin should be pure like a bride,
the nicest dress you wear your whole life
my arms are moth­eaten and my face is bleach­stained
unwearable, I tear, stitch where I please
and come out of it inflamed and bloody

mother was raised by a hoarder, it makes sense how
she taught me to purge what I don’t need
but the problem is snagging veins
on the way out

Serena Devi is an 18-year-old writer from Lexington, Kentucky. She has been published in Peaches, Visceral Uterus,and Blue Marble, and currently works as a reader for Rabbit Catastrophe Review. She attends New York University. You can read more of her work at serena-devi.tumblr.com.