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Penance

Ashna Saxena

I hold the icy pleasure in my hands,
Admiring it for a moment,
Before allowing it to plant a chilling kiss on my skin;
Flesh, dead white at first
And then beads of red appear
A pleasing sting following shortly,
Turning into a raging fire
As I dig deeper still
And the beads of red
Turn into tiny rivulets running down my arm

Eyes glazed with a feverish ecstasy,
I let out a ragged breath
As pain washes over me in waves.
A pulsing, frothing ravine,
Gushing with a river red,
A dull throbbing at the back of my head
As pain and pleasure morph into one

But a short-lived ecstasy is all it is
For then tears threaten to spill,
Shame and hopelessness take over,
For the realization that nothing changed dawns on.

I stare at all the other smooth, oblong bumps
Clustered together on my arm,
Red and ugly,
Sensitive reminders of weakness

But I crave that control,
That control of playing with life,
The life coursing through my veins,
Mere millimetres away from my working hand;

And so, I indulge
Again and again
Till my veins run dry
And my perverse mind I gratify,
Again and again
Till my morbid penance is served,
But surely one that I deserve.

Illustration by Ashna Saxena


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