Poetry

. . . I found a pair of velvet-coated antlers,
three fingers reaching from an open palm
still throbbing with platelet’s hot breath

Hold a winesap apple to your brow and think of the worst possible outcome.
Or has the worst already happened? How do you define cataclysm?

Are you dead yet?
We're writing letters to our future selves
wanting to know if we can outlive men with beautiful hands.

black pearls on a string
when young lustrous
men dazzle yet frighten us
for many our first encounters a plundering

The tongue is lost—now blood pools
in her mouth. Her maid stops the wound
with a tampon, split down the middle
like some carpenter’s unlucky thumb.

I’ve heard
we only remember
the bad things
that happen to us

This is the part of the story about my first time getting wasted that most don’t hear

A trace of her hair tucked away, his skin
beneath her nails. Each square reminded him
of hopscotch. Her head like a tetherball. What kind

Okay, or
entitled little shits

With her new magic, she makes you
invisible.

We, women, grew hungry, ate
from a pile of unassuming, pleasant rocks. They fell
down our throats, slipped into the blankness of our bodies.

This is a game for girls: putting a hat
on the cat, putting pants on
the cat, drawing a turkey by tracing
her hand. Little girls like cats.

I don’t remember much
of the train, but I remember William

who gave me his engraved
penknife at the station

When I finish my first book,
I wonder who'll blurb the
unsubstantiated blows
my father landed
upside my head.
“An unforgettable voice
in fiction.”

When I finally told you that my first boyfriend
raped me, I was worried you would be mad

I’ve heard there is a room where hooded
women enter, writing dates on the wall
with the torn edge of their finger. I’ve heard
you can cipher the numbers to bodies, to
the graceless edge of some men’s beds. Is

Fear the caging of birds. Strangled and brown.
Moving here was like crossing a river,
debriefings, scaling back. Clay pots clogged,
awkward like an ingrown hair, browning down
in the sun. Staring at walls draws a crowd,
like a hardened nipple, a tear-streaked thigh.

I shed my pelt on the shoreline,
leaving the warmth of the
glossy grey coat to shiver
and head for land.

My mother in a rental van
idling in the Phoenix Airport parkade.
She does a word search, finds “tongue” “bitter”
“cochlea” lets a ballpoint pen tell her of her own
body. I tap the van window, see her face
for the first time in months. It’s been too hot,

The first time, you walk into the night and think,
This January wind is like death. Then you laugh at
the idea that wind can kill
in a city where asphalt is streaked with long
stripes of blood or shit or mud.

Pages

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  • Room 39.4, This Body's Map
    Edited by Chelene Knight

    In this issue:

    Marianne Apostolides, Kate Balfour, andrea bennett, June Beshea, Tatiana Bobko, Nicole Breit, Logan Broeckaert, Claire Caldwell, Lizzie Carr, Nicole Chin, Deirdre Daly, Samantha deVries-Hofman, Chantal Gibson, Jane Flett, Jónína Kirton, Jen Sookfong Lee, Cyndi MacMillan, Catherine Mellinger, Sylvia McFadden, SheLa E. Nefertiti Morrison, Lindsay Nixon, Ezi Odozor, Melanie Pierluigi, Natalie Wee, Kobina Wright, Beni Xiao

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