Everything smelled like smoke: the black lab, the incense-soaked tapestries, her hands, ice water. She stalked down the long hallway, blood-stained sheets tacked on walls—sniffing for smoke, yanking doorknobs and tearing curtains. She couldn't tell that the smell was her own skin turning to ash, barely holding in the pillars of flame. She dreamed of the house splitting—fissures of fire, tongue wherever teeth are missing.
At nights she is a dog,
in red moons
a dark creature—
some days are longer than
press my legs with your
a fire lights behind my eyes
and smolders all evening.
As you get older, windows shrink
and the sky
moves closer, but never
close enough to touch.
Across the salt knobs, the winged monster arose and began to eat the decaying matter of the earth—wet leaves, rotted logs oozing with grubs, detritus from the sink trap.
I spit in a coffee can and step around the mess, heels clicking against whorls in the floorboards.
I try to remember when everything began.
The apartment smells of bonfire and herb bloom and long hours of glass sucking heat and sun. I can't find the letter I am looking for—February, promises, a story about a Polish family and a book of essays.
I have a toothache every day now.
I still have a hard time talking about my feelings. My thighs stick to everything. The wings furled inside of me swell if you stand too close, rattle their cage when anyone shouts.
The blood god visits earlier every year and, honey, wolf moon cry doesn't shatter the mirror the way you dreamt it would.
Cobalt ache—silvery pang erupting up spine—cloud of blooded ash pours from splintered plate, frozen, phone mid-ring, mouth an o of ocean and full moon blues.
There is gold inside
my thigh, between femur
and shin—I lap,
press on sliver of bone,
ivory, shy before extraction.
There is a science to
walking through windows without you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JESSE RICE-EVANS is a queer Southern poet and rhetorician based in NYC. Read her work in Heavy Feather Review, Yes Poetry, tenderness yea, and in the chapbooks The Rotting Kind (Ghost City Press) and Soft Switch (Damaged Goods Press), among others. She's a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches writing at the City College of New York and the Cooper Union.