In the first week of August I wrenched my back while getting sick

and spent every night spooning my cat, pretending the pain

wasn’t severe enough to warrant a heat pack. But my body knows

our hellmouth and its continued expansion. Its limitless consumption.

And we are pushed past our limits to stay above ground. In the dark

I swallow monsters and in the sun I spit them out and this is how I am

the angel you sought, head spinning, blinking eyes to cover my body.

If you’ve seen my softer side you know it’s a spark plug and this is how

I love, how I saint myself, a bitch standing on the edge of herself

with a match. I sublimate the shame I’m meant to hold into the muscles

of my thighs. I reject the deep sleep of crisis but some days I watch

every episode of The X-Files twice then stare at the ceiling for an hour,

quiet. I ask myself: What is danger and what is discomfort? What specific

hells rest between my fingers when I pull them from my pockets?

Look—Marie Curie was so radioactive when she died that they buried her

in lead. Consider: A woman’s glow is both a violent disintegration and

a reminder that even in a white blouse those of us who don’t fit in a box

make you nervous. As the earth swallows humanity I suspect this is doubly true.

But I come to you with kindness. With the rattling bottle of Tylenol I keep

on hand. It’s the closest thing I have to motherhood. I try on a new name, a new

dress, a new pair of boots. My hands show my age even as I forget the years.

The animals are still moving in the dirt under our feet whether I am bitch

or daughter. I can brandish my most wild hearts but we both know that

far more dangerous women have lived. Still you survive to open your mouth.

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