Size / / /

When a body's opened, chest-first,
with bare hands, with rocks—
steam rises into morning air,
warms the sharp chill. You want
to clutch it to your breast, tell it
you love its febrile, fluttering life.
To rip it wide and climb inside,
wear it 'til the heat drains away once more.

We live alone, not lonely, on
rocky, saline soil which suffers no plow,
will grow no crop fit for reaping. What surprise,
we look elsewhere to use our hungry sickles?
It is only natural.

(As the stag flees the wolf, the crab the gull.
As corpses would flee fish, surely, if they only could.)

To the rest, meanwhile—our stark cave
crammed with useless trinkets, hanging garden
of dried flesh—this is simply home,
our scrap-lined nest, a crib for carrion-chicks
to practice on each other, file down their teeth
and claws by gnawing bones, a warren
for breeding rabbits.

Lust pairs us off without pattern,
pregnancy just one more way to reckon
how fast (or slow) time passes . . .
yet who did we ever need, in truth,
but each other?

(As well, from time to time, as you—
God's gift. Quotidian bounty
of salt-cold sand and tide.)

Set table, now; sit down. Mind your manners.
Our prayers begin en masse, so flavor-full of grace:
This once-fierce meat—so raw and rare, so savory,
already cooling—receives, evokes,
our most devout benediction.

Old woman, do you make ever sure
to feed the children first.

Former film critic and teacher turned award-winning horror writer Gemma Files is best known for her Hexslinger Series, now collected in omnibus form (ChiZine Publications). She has also published two collections of short fiction and two chapbooks of poetry. Her next book is We Will All Go Down Together: A Novel in Stories About the Five-Family Coven (also from CZP). Her website is here.
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15 Apr 2024

Mnemonic skills test positive: inaccurately positive.
pallid growths like toadstools, / and scuttling many-legged things,
By: Ana Hurtado
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