Why I Pierced My Nose – Cinthia Ritchie

Because in junior high
a girl with banana-colored hair
stuck a pin through my ear,
yanked a thread, blood dripping,
it felt holy, Christ
on the cross, Moses wandering
the desert,
my ears crusted with pus
until I smelled infection
across my pillow
animal odors, comforting,

Because few years later a boy
with dark hair and green eyes,
led me to his bed,
another type of piercing
but Jesus, how he moved,
cat eyes blurring,
I licked the blood from the sheet,
tasted myself.
When I walked I could feel
a hole between my legs
gasping and hungry for breath,

Because the years smeared
together and suddenly I had a son
with beautiful teeth,
a job at a newspaper,
poems published in magazines no one
read. Every Sunday I blew a copy editor
in the supply closet, printer cartridges praying
my knees as outside the door reporters’ keyboards
sang the news.
After he left, I paid a man to tattoo
a dolphin over my arm, blood mixing
with ink, I loved the pain, the permanence.
Some things should never stop hurting.

But they do and soon you forget,
which is why years later,
no longer young,
I had my nose pierced,
pain blaring hot-rock shout,
eyes watering, it was almost unbearable,
Mary searching the temple for Jesus,
Abraham ready to slit his own son’s throat,
and then, just as suddenly,
it was over, a small pink stone
embedded in my right nostril,
a gift, a song,
a reminder not so much of pain
but of the relief, the welcoming
stillness, that follows.


CINTHIA RITCHIE is an Alaska writer and ultra-runner who spends her time running mountain trails with a dog named Seriously. Find her work in New York Times Magazine, Evening Street Review, Sport Literate, Best American Sports Writing, Bosque Literary Journal, Clementine Unbound, Deaf Poets Society, Into the Void, Gyroscope Review and more.

Cabinet Of Heed Contents Link 21

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