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There are barbed rose stems

replacing my veins

or so i could have believed

from the lupine-light way

you hid your skin within my skin


from between your bifurcating pulses

i gazed up into your oyster-gray eyes

my lips a corpse for i had not

yet learned how to tell you no


the roundness of your eyes

could be the thinnest whisper

because no one taught you to

say forgive me after the touching


i didn’t want to be your cremated

secret, i just wanted to sing

the way a bird can sing

flapping its wings and still


drowning, i just wanted to not see

your urgency in that orange sea

of curtain-polluted sunlight

your breath climbing from a


to f-sharp and stuttering like stars

falling up, i just wanted to be held

only by night’s whimpering breeze

because i am the height of adult hips


and when my mouth fits the shape

of you, it is only because

this clumsy tongue is too obedient

to give shape instead to a voice


every saturday for one year

i will learn perfect

silence as you teach me

how a girl comes


as close to a scream

as silent can

This poem was first published in Sonora Review's anthology on gender-based violence, Spring 2021


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