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your starved bones

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"going anywhere for vacation, seul?" joohyun asks, / lips stained curious with a smile. / a distinct discord swells at the table, but her question is left unbothered. / "not really," you answer, in the silence she offers. / only awed by the tales spun of gold soaked lands / and joohyun just observes, / as though a dove lies perched in her throat / unable to fly.

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at the violent start of summer, / you are mesmerised by her laughter that heralds a summer thunderstorm in your soul. / it fills in your fractured bones and mends them hollow. / joohyun's delicacy withers away in the arms of a boy, / like fallen petals crushed under military boots. / her smiles sharpened over polite words. / you wonder if you will ever miss her coarse sweetness / that sits swaddled in layered secrets.

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you only ever dreamt of summers drenched / in the orangey mist of the sun / and of memories bathed in the glittery expanse of doe-eyed joy. / you'd never dreamt of joohyun on her bicycle, / coming to a clumsy stop in wait for you, / as the tyres kicked up dusty flecks haloed golden. / palm outstretched like a promise / you haven't tasted before.

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joohyun doesn't mesh into your little life, / she still seems rather odd, / full of the muted lilac of a shrouded sunset. / your hands brush by accident over thorns / planted in needless defence / but there is no red to bloody your hands. / you see her sat folded over her knees / like a crooked carapace, / unable to offer any tired scraps of friendship / over the silence that tangles your throat.

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saturated golden under the dying sunlight, / you shiver at the lipstick pressed against your mouth. / her eyes stay intent, / and coax an indecent quiet from your tongue, / as the popsicle stains your hand sticky.

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slowly, she unfurls / in tiny feathered smiles / offered like iridescent angels, / lying prostrate in prayer.

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skin soaked orange under the streetlights, / joohyun looks like a symphony yet unsung.

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"are you ever going to invite me inside?" / as the question blossoms its hydrangea petals / in mischief on her lips, / you want to immerse yourself in the darkness that stretches / on the porch steps in front of you. / "in your dreams," you say, / words drenched blueberry ripe. / tongue forced away from the absolute gravity of the word yes. / joohyun pockets her hands and you wish that in another star speckled future, / you can trace the cupid's bow of her lips with yours, / when she says, "let's sneak into school tomorrow."

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a song rises through the brambles / unbidden, in your mind. / chasing after joohyun in the school stadium, / her laughter feels like dewy petals at dawn / and you wish to enclose it in your heart. / there is beauty in that song and the way you lie next to her on the calloused grass. / her lips exhale your name, "seulgi," / and that song rises in crescendo, a simple heartbeat, / "i'd like to stay here forever." / "in high school?" / "no, here—with you."

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as the sun blooms yellow in the sky, / you yawn—an ache for the soft release of sleep. / joohyun's hand on your shoulder, she murmurs, "come here," / voice aged limp like thick wine. / you fall into her arms and finally / all boundaries are etched away / by the sunrise as it births small / instances of closed affection.

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your laughter spills out in the air behind you / as though to soak the night sky with the permanent glow / of your tender happiness. / going down inky asphalt on childhood bicylces, / joohyun laughs rather maniacal / and a southern breeze weaves through her hair / just as your communion births a new universe.

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"i'm bored, seul," she says, / over the pink clamour of the sunset. / "what d'you want to do?" / she rolls on top of you, / her body an indecent pressure. / all you see is a blurry and lilac tinged smile. / "sneak into someone's pool," / she replies and her bones cut through to yours, / but you push her away / before they could meld into your blood / and crouch there unattended for an eternity.

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cool air pools around your neck / like a silk infused embrace / and peppers chaste lips to the blisters / left behind by joohyun's intrusive touch. / "why don't you come over for a sleepover," / you say over the rim of your milkshake. / you see her lips coated red with secrets / stretch into a lopsided smile made of poety, / "and here i thought you wanted to keep me a secret."

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strawberry slush taints your teeth / with ambitions you've never tasted before. / her stare trails across your shoulder blades / and you are left uneasy with the possibilities. / "what?" you ask / but she looks away, / not quite ready to unfurl the void / that thumps in her chest.

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a sapling grows unbidden / somewhere, perhaps—everywhere: / in your blood, your bones, your body / as a testament to the thoughts left unsaid. / head on your shoulder, joohyun is asleep. / and you feel the sapling shudder in close proximity.

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skin bathed in neon signs, / joohyun looks at you tender / and your whole being fills with a nimble joy.

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she catches your forearm / only to leave sunburnt pain over your nerves. / under your sneakers the pavement cries in friction / and glistens like crushed onyx. / moonlight falls on joohyun's cheekbones, / soft like a parting kiss borne from memory / and the air stutters to a stop / as though to marvel at such carnivorous beauty.

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joohyun's touch is just ghostly adoration, / paper soft and marble against your cheek. / lips fleshy red and delectably close.

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when you follow her footsteps into the pool, / her skin shines under the summery sheen / and you ache for a shivering euphoria in her arms. / joohyun glows as a pale reflection of the water. / she corners you at the end, / her smile crooked like a cruel reminder. / a songbird thuds like a violent heartbeat at the base of your throat / and you wait, / but there is nothing as she swims away.

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she steals one of your shirts / and you don't tell her of the bare emotions / smeared grey over it like spilt bone marrow. / instead, you tell her, "it's old." / but she savours the muddied threads in her hands, / "doesn't matter as long as it's yours."

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stars flicker in the dusty / sky as forgotten testaments / for joohyun's heart as it splits open, / and you observe in wondrous awe, / at the raw carnage she bestows upon your soul.

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inside joohyun's arms you find freedom hung like a maladied halo. / "i'm going to miss you," she mumbles against the calloused material of your shirt. / "i'm not going anywhere," you say. / "no, but—i'll go back to daegu once summers end." / you hug her tight, / your arms heavy with unplucked confessions, / ripe and ready for the taste of her affections.

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star shine filters through glass / and caresses joohyun's eyelashes like a devout worshipper. / suddenly, you wish there was a way you could reinvent the word beautiful.

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"seul?" she whispers your name like a lullaby, / forbidden and sugar-coated by her cherry lips. / an ache sits ready on your ribs to claim you with its bony fingers / and you listen in fear to the starlit agony of the heavens. / "i think i like you," she says, / unaware of the nightingale that claws your sternum for blissful escape.

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a moment away from the door and your arms are around her waist, / a tight embrace. / the willowy embers of her soul roils beneath your palm, / lips pressed to joohyun's forehead. / you say, "for the record—i like you, too."

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music hums softly—tentative, afraid to touch the air / and you are captured by her laughter, / moored into orbit. / you push joohyun's hair away from her sunshine face, / and as though you were destined, / her sorrows knit with yours, / wreathed in gold / by the faint press of her lips against yours.

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head pillowed in joohyun's lap, / you try to pull fables from the stars / in order to aid the groggy melody she / guides through your hair.

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her profile stands illuminated by the bluebell light of the film, / it casts feverish shadows across her pallor. / she looks at you and a quiet descends, / an empty hush to melt the concrete over your bones, / and suddenly—there is everything. / her lips pressed against yours and her shivering breath in your lungs, / like fire she spreads to lay waste to your pine heart. / her lips sing the softest of symphonies, / an ode to the insatiable need that scuttles into your soul. / and her hands that press petals onto your waist.

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some days the sun heralds a warning / but you don't heed the saltwater rush in your ears, / as you type declarations as messages / and blink fatigued / at the replies that flock, / veined with a hunger you can never satiate.

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sunlight shatters your heart / as you fill with a breathless ache, / seeing her eyes alight and squinted / against the glassy sun. / "your eyes are beautiful," / you say and her cheeks falter with a rosy hue. / "and you are terribly unoriginal," / she offers in rebuttal, / but you read her like a poem / until your chest floods / full of her cotton voice.

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"i really wanted to kiss you that day," joohyun comments. / "what's stopping you now?" / she pulls you inside the pool by your wrist / her fingers harsh like raw marble. / you taste her heart on your tongue, / it pulsates like a caged animal / insatiable, as water laps against your face like a gentle lover.

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at the library, joohyun guides you through the shelves, / where people pluck different universes made of ink stained papers / from the aged bark that encloses them. / she is a shy daffodil, / cherry lip caught between teeth. / you wish to taste the summer she brings / but you don't understand when she snatches her hand away from yours / at the sight of a familiar face, / unbothered by your private hurt.

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joohyun reminds you of wilted orchards laid to rest / on pyres fueled by guilt. / "i'm sorry for what i did back at the library... i just—i freaked out," / she offers but you find no solace in those decayed words / made immaterial by her lips.

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she burrows seeds of her affection with strawberry coated words / after the sky bleeds a stormy purple, / right into your heart and ties the arteries into twisted little bows. / you trade chaste kisses under starlight, / her lips as tangible as smoke.

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you see nothing but broken constellations in her eyes / and a sorrow murmurs in trepidation, rather soft in your ears. / you see her sat hunched at the edge of the bed / and you cradle her face in your hands made to cleave the bony ashes of melancholy. / she asks, "will you still like me even after i leave?" / your wayward heart stumbles a beat too soon. / there are words that wait to break the fresh plum of your love / but they are never uttered / and you settle for the air that sinks like a hymn in supplication.

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over the phone she says, "i'm sorry," / and a ravenous hunger blooms inside you, / unfolding its bloodied petals. / "what are you sorry for?" you say, / at the ready to consume her tainted apologies. / "i'm sorry, seul—i... i'm sorry, / i'm sorry i'm going to leave soon... i'm sorry i haven't had the time for you. / i'm sorry." / you poke at her words and find nothing but hollowed alabaster, / it leaves a dusty film on your skin. / when you mutter, "it's okay," / you wish for your feigned apathy to lodge into joohyun's bones / and create an inferno that churns like monstrous hurt. / but nothing else is exchanged other than the gooey quiet / and you are again left alone.

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now a senior in high school, / you are filled with a yawning absence / as it fingers through your ribs / and leaves you all too aware of your starved bones. / you sink into the sinewy mess / and you find joohyun there, / her absence, a too violent ache / splits you open until you are nothing but plucked briars, / left forgotten on the floor.

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when she crumbles your heart like messy pulp, / it is after class and she is again in the arms of a body, / his arms threaded across her waist in juvenile possessiveness. / when you ache from the bloodied mess in your chest, / it pulsates a guttural howl as joohyun finally looks away. / and when you move to go home, / an autumnal sorrow shrouds you in its embrace.