/signe e. land

Love Is A Word That Lies

how I hate the word cuddle do you want to cuddle
cuddle me need me show me love
this was never
about love if I held you in my mouth like a stone

would you be satisfied if I carved your name across
my flesh in the colors of the morning sky pink orange
echoes of red streaking across white like your hand print

red lingering on my thighs my stomach my breasts if I
said yes agreed assented relented would you love me
then?Mother you said I was the baby in your arms

always wanting your cuddleHusband you said I was
the woman in your arms dumb mute her tongue cut from
her mouth by a thousand yeses her blood drying no one

noticingBrother I was the tiny girl in your bed not
understanding your touch was never good touchhow I
hate the word cuddle how a word can lie teeth bared

while I mistaking teeth for a smile said yes and yes and
yes as my brain scrambled to understand why my body
screamed no and no and no my mind twisting agonizing

over the decades so slow to grasp it was never about love
never about me poor ugly confused lonely lovely child

Signe E. Land is a queer disabled autistic writer living in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Minneapolis. She holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and a JD from William Mitchell College of Law, graduating class valedictorian. Ms. Land’s work has appeared in William Mitchell Law Review, Bookends Review, Rivet: The Journal of Writing that Risks, Atticus Review, Coachella Review, pif Magazine, Lady/Liberty/Lit and others. In 2019, Ms. Land won third place in the Kay Snow Poetry Competition, Second Place in Atticus Review’s Flash Non-Fiction Contest, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry.