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Born to the veil
peeled out like a peach with the old iron knife
rose quartz, slow flesh, thin newness in January air.
His grandmother kept the caul for luck
pressed between the pages of her bible
and the old ways.

His silvern eyes mirrored the tarnished coin his mother slipped in to his fist
at christening.
Droplets of hope, heavy on small lids
and when he lifted them
he saw his first ghost
over the priest’s shoulder,
her gauzy lips grazing his cheek.

His luck was the vaporous three-legged dog that followed him everywhere.
Its dusky warmth on his feet,
the comfort he could not sleep without
for there were too many nights
his dreams had the flavor of ash and mire
and he would wake, panting,
the heat of his fear snatched by the cold nights.

In the village
the girls asked him who they would marry
until he told the raven-haired her sailor floated somewhere in the Atlantic,
the ring he bought her in Portugal
resting on a finger of coral.

The white heather his mother tucked in to his cap
stayed green, even past the dream of her prostrate in the market square—
He warned her against buying apples In autumn,
but in September, he felt the tell-tale jolt of loss,
keen as raven’s wing through cloud
dropped the plough, sprinting through the fields of winter wheat.
His gasps matching hers
the viscous pump of blood through ventricles
one stream running dry.

At the apple stall
the copper eyes of the butcher’s wife
burned holes in his heart
as he watched his mother’s soul
drift from her breast into the ether.
It slipped by his hands, goose down through fingers,
formless, aimless love that would spin itself into grief
the cloak woven from its threads
one he would wear
for the rest of his days.
In Western folklore, children born with cauls (amniotic sac still on) are considered lucky, and sometimes the ability to see ghosts and predict the future.
She knew it was an apple
But she longed for a pomegranate
For then she could stay with him
And not feel ashamed
The proximal end of my soul is no longer safe
Decay has dilapidated the space
The raveled fragments fester
Leaves wilting with vinegar burns
Where I have tried to **** the infestation
And found I was only killing myself.

I can remember when my mind was softer, but not safer,
Hiding in the hallway to the den
Watching the scene of the desperate father
pulling his dead son from burned rubble
My child mind imagining
Blooms of orange around my bedposts,
tendrils of cinder and smoke,
Placing my hand against the back of the door
To feel the phantom heat.

And now I hold the matches to my own bed
The quiet comforter can only stifle them for a moment
There is not enough weight to press
These dreams out of myself
Maybe I still crave heat because it is the pain that is also comfort
It is the fear and the foment, the ailment and the aid
It is my body asking for enough feeling
To know it is alive and safe
While my mind is screaming fire
in a crowded
theatre.
I miss the solace of your blue and citrine eyes
the anxious twist of the zephyrs in my core
Stilled near you,
Standing in cool shadows beneath an oak—
The heart tree your parents
Planted when you were born
still mewling as white coats pricked your tiny feet
The hunger they induced that never quite left you.
Still, under your branches
I was safe.

I remember the night
Lachesis plucked a few more inches
From her spool
And you wrapped them around your finger
Driven by ****** of dread
Drew me into your arms, clinging to the spaces between my hips and ribs
Whispering into the curve of my neck  
that if you released me into starlight  
Erebus would ****** me away from you.  
And I had not doubted that you loved me
But feeling your caged panic
I learned the wings of your heart were strong enough to bend mine.

In the dark I am more skittish now
Untangling our threads
I unraveled the Moirai’s veil.
Alone,
I am under the crimson eye of too many men
Now that I am not
The apple of yours.
The Graeae glance down from their mountain
Holding their eye above an abyss
Words I always wanted said are
poisoned by unwanted lips.
The restless zephyr in my stomach stirs
Searching the nearest escape route.
And the softer tint of the world
has turned hard again.

But you are still the nearest sanctuary
And maybe it is selfish
To think of you so
But I hope I am still the same
For you.
Calling all,
This is our last cry before
eternal
silence.*

In the quiet spaces between waves
the last vestiges of humanity sink,
dots, bubbles bursting in sea foam
fragile as mermaids' souls,
dashes, innumerable shafts of sun on water
Cascading to the sea floor.
Cast the net of time wider
The final chorus of lost comrades
fervent tapping of fingertips
Lingering in the swells.
. . . - - - . . .  
     . . .
        - - -
             . . .
The italicized verse is the French Navy’s last message transmitted before discontinuing Morse code in French waters. The Morse code at the end of the poem is SOS.
First,
dress yourself in all black
no bright colors
that draw wandering eyes.
Wear the only baseball cap you own
position your pony tail
so the brim shields most of your face
but you still have enough peripheral vision
to look over your shoulder.
Move the ring you have worn on your right hand
since you were 16,
to the left ring finger.
You cannot tell the difference
between those who will leave
when there is a shadow of another man
and those who will see it as a challenge.

Second,
arm yourself.
Tie your small pocket knife into the waistband of your shorts,
last resort first.
Clip your keys to your bra
and tuck your mace canister
in the space between your *******
along with all the promises
of men who have loved you
and promised to protect you.


Third,
text your sister
tell her where you are going
and ask her to check on you
if you have not replied in an hour.
Keep one earbud out,
and do not get lost in the strains
of Tracy Chapman's voice, no matter how beautiful.
***** up your ears
the way you have seen a deer's twitch in twilight,
You both know what it is to be prey.

Fourth,
begin.
In your apartment complex
as you run across the green space,
there are children laughing,
and you feel safe enough.
Do not let this last.
When you reach the road
feel the power of your thighs beneath you
as you sprint across,
controlled sinew and muscle
you always wanted them to be strong enough
to kick a hole in brick.

Fifth,
slip your mace out of your bra
and into your fist
while you sprint through the wooded drive.
In your mind, practice screaming
FIRE! HELP! GET THE **** AWAY FROM ME!
until your vocal chords are in imagined shreds.

Sixth,
Pace yourself.
You know if you are too tired,
you cannot outrun someone.
Your lungs will give out before your legs do,
breathe deep, and pull your shoulders back.
You have never swung a punch
at another human
but you imagine what it would be like,
the bones of your knuckles
breaking across a zygomatic arch.

Seventh,
When you pass others
do not meet their eyes, do not smile.
Under the imagined safety of your hat brim
keep your eyes on the sidewalk and their feet,
in case they turn toward you.
Remember where the parents with children are walking
because they will be a safe haven to run to.
When there is no one in front of you,
look over your shoulder.


Eighth,
On your way back through the wooded drive
when Judges 19:25
the news reports of gang rapes on buses,
Kitty Genovese, and the voices of all the women you know
who have been harassed and *****, flash through your mind
run faster.

Ninth,
text your sister that you are safe
only when you are back in your apartment
and the door is locked,
and you are sure no one has come in
while you were out.
Kiss the salt from your skin
and thank your body
for its
strength.
I was going to write a poem
asking parents
To raise their daughters not to be soft
To warn that their honey covered lips
Draw flies.
That the sweetness we have had
Shoved down our throats
Is choking us
When we want to scream for help.

But it is not your daughter’s fault.
Parents, do not raise your sons to believe
They are owed answers.
The honey on a girl’s lips
Was never theirs to taste.
Her body
Is not a trap, not a vice
It Is her space in the world, autonomous.
Only animals see traps.
She exists for no one but herself.
Sons, if she crosses your path
Leave
Her
Alone.
Ladies, this is your reminder to be rude and get the **** out of there if someone makes you uncomfortable. Got approached by a man yesterday while walking alone who made me wildly uncomfortable. My default is nice and honest and I panicked and let him talk to me instead of running tf away. Don't be like me.
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