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but I remember the texture of its curling and the duration of its punishment. Tearing off the bark of a tree would emit a whimper, and driving became a chorus of wails from concrete pores. I had never yearned for silence until my father leapt into it, embraced by the roar of his engine. Slipping under the scene of scattered metal was a faintly-volumed sipping: blades of grass consuming his crimson. Nature was taking us back, and I could only witness her hunger. 

Sister, break my bread for me. I don’t sleep anymore. Instead, I walk. My feet drag callouses into the soil as I listen my way into the heart of the forest, coveted by the appetite of shadows. Finding approval in my nature, a string of groans lures me into an opening in the thicket; the sun bleeds through holes in hanging indigo as a silver plate melts into the horizon. No space for pondering. I sink myself into its solution and let my pores widen for sound. She kisses my innards where they bruise and mimics the sensation of fullness. 


I have been spared from punishment. For now. She whispers to me of Parisian delicacies, thin limbs tasting of sweetness, and the emptiness inside her. I carry it between the lining of my stomach when I feign eating at the dinner table. Sister, when did you become so plump? Grinding rocks between molars for reprieve, I think I should give into silence as well, but I know she will not allow it. When the crust of the world breaks, I will be the last of its cravings.


This is not the space for me. This is

hands wet, feet marooned, back bent 

into obedience. Have you been listening

to the news? Anchors in blue depths 

told me Pluto brings back news from its

banishment, and humanity only sighs 

at discovery: what a shame this is tile

floors gone cold, twilight absence, 

the silence between greeting and 

parted lips, fingers made for plucking 

evidence of intimacy from gums 

discarding affection into the barrels of 

guns to be shot into the black of ribs.

Tuck your hands, then I will know this is 

when I barter for the lining of oak trees —

thirty cents for a bit of your skin, mister, but 

do not question me when I lift my eyes to 

redwood, my grace drifting towards how 

aching bulges outwards and sinks into itself,

pulsing to the breath of wet wind. Watch 

bark fold hands into innocence in the

shape of feathers crimsoned by sight, and 

realize that I, too, once gained from loss.

From behind the ivory bars of a bird cage, 


remind me of what this is.

Rian is a student located in Illinois. She is an IYWS and Kenyon Young Writers alum.  

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