I Wear the Flesh of an Imperfect Animal

I didn’t have to trade my life
in compromises when winter sprang at me,

daring me once again to tease or test
my resolve for just how much I can stand

after going home. I didn’t want to go.
I didn’t want to trade my life

in compromises for bunched bone
& flesh tucked inside

or hate those who hate scars,
those content with bearing new lives

after plummeting from the pliable blue
belly of sky into a wild world

engraved in the known.
I was born of a different dark, a trick,

a kind of infidelity, the salt of the past’s shoulder
on my tongue. I’ve adjusted to the degrees

of gray, gathered them until light escaped me.
Tonight, I chase shadows into darkness

under a moon that looks nothing like a face.
I’m smiling, and I’m all teeth.

Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while, sleeps. She is the author of three collections, including Wayward Lines (RAW ArT PRESS, 2015), the chapbooks Forgetting Aesop (Bandini Books, 2011), Naked Animal (Flutter Press, 2012), My Father Had a Daughter (Alabaster Leaves Publishing, 2013), Hatched from Bone (Flutter Press, 2014), On Coming of Age and Stitches (Origami Poems Project, 2014), On This and That (Bitterzoet Press, 2015), Strangest Sea (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Beautiful Wreckage (Flutter Press, 2015), Unsent (Origami Poems Project, 2015), The Peace of Wild Things (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Knee Deep in Bone (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2015), Birds Never Sing in Caves (Dancing Girl Press, 2016), Even the Statue Weeps (Sylph Press, 2017), and Cutting Eyes from Ghosts (Blood Pudding Press, 2017). She is the founder of ELJ Editions, a small press with big things to offer, home of Emerge Literary Journal, scissors & spackle, Amethyst Arsenic, and other fine journals.

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