to make a body the same way you
unmake it: soften, then burn it under the fire
until it cracks at the seams. fill the spaces
in her skin with gold and watch how she
learns to touch again, fingers hollow with greed.
i know her as nighttime, gnashing teeth and
mumbled prayers and the way we’re swallowed up by black,
and tossed into the backseat of her car, borrowed and ruined.
all the different ways to see it:
body in the bed. body in the street. body unimagined.
the church parking lot wraps around us
like a pulsing heart, and i know it’s my own.
the sweetest language always tastes the most vicious,
and as she tongues words into my skin i feel
the poison seep in, the one i’ve always heard about,
but i never knew it’d be this hot below the craters
of my neck, face, everywhere, the way the heat clings
to me, tinged with fervid melodies, felt but unsung,
how my body’s dusted in gold. i never knew
scripture until she etched it into me, steady and
bruising, and hunger is never this slow,
never aches this way. we meet
in the margins of reality and laugh until
we cry, tears rivering down our faces
until we taste salt and sky and dreams. i don’t
want to leave her backseat until the day starves
for light, little bonfires lit among my body.
on these days i bend the same way she bows for prayer,
linger between these moments until they’re as intrinsic
in me as verses. who could say what will happen
next—in the morning i will fold away my shadow
and move in half-existence, or maybe i’ll
write the script for how this is supposed to be
and actually read it. there has never been
a direct line to holiness, but
i think i may have found it.
Annie Williams is a student in the Midwest. Her poems have been recognized by Ohio Northern University, VerbalEyze, and Scholastic.