He holds ribbons in his open palm—
tries to keep them with red-soaked tissue
Eyes tucked tight behind a clenched brow—
a hint of porcelain teeth, just a line,
through lips pursed that can’t contain
the building growl escaping from within his throat.
A growl that catches on his tongue as he presses
still white tissue palm to palm between his hands—
a kind of silent prayer that goes unanswered.
Red is contagious—
consuming like a hungry fire—
tongue lapping at the edges of foothills
starved of water and green.
It devours the white and spills to invade
the white linoleum—
a parasite desperate to survive.
He peels his hands and tissue
sticks to skin—
pulling ribbons that quiver with the hiss
of breath as he exposes the tiny holes
that have pierced his hand.
Tiny holes that match the tiny teeth
of the puppy cowering in the corner.