Damned Women

Each morning my friend calls to check
on me. I tell this dying woman I want to die.
My hair trembles. I tell this dying woman
that my children can no longer see my face,
that love looks like an egg cracking.

                        My son’s breath blows into my mouth
                        each night. My daughter still wakes
                        screaming for her mother who abandoned us.

Do you think each body’s death
was inscribed in the lining of our marrow?
Cancer, my friend’s inscription reads.
She is alone. This is the middle.
The beginning was a lump in her breast.

                        Months after we decide to divorce,
                        the children and I still run solitary circles
                        in the browning grass. Chiggers ride the motion
                        of our steps waving the blades. The children
                        are breaking me with their beauty.

Together our mouths shape loss,
and it sounds like ohs stamped out
behind solid oak doors. Loss is shut out of sight,
like women and starving and bleeding
and the shimmer of water draining.

Allison Berry Blevins received her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte and is a Lecturer for the Women’s Studies Program at Pittsburg State University and the Department of English and Philosophy at Missouri Southern State University. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as the minnesota review, Sinister Wisdom, Pilgrimage, and Josephine Quarterly. She lives in Joplin, Missouri, with her wife and two children.

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