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at twelve you are Cassandra

sitting on the rooftop with your mouth full of snakes


you know already your body will rot

like a peony, over-plump

and full of starving ants


you know your flesh will mangle itself

as it has begun already




it helps to think of yourself as an animal


a dog, a horse, something to thump

the flank of and inhale their earthy scent

and whisper sweet meaningless things

into their ears


a body that runs and eats and sleeps

and smells of sweat and mud

and is stroked long and loving each night

after a job well done




it helps to think of yourself as a painting


impressionists, renaissance, flesh adored

in wild color and gorgeous light


the bodies of round-hipped maidens desired

by no less than bulls and gods




it’s all about the lighting

we all know this

purchase lipstick in a hundred shades


chin out, mouth open

flaunt your teeth like candy

flick your tongue like a snake

hold the shutter down

and do not let go




we are learning how to disappear completely

into the void of ourselves




your body is like an empty frame

waiting for marriage


your soul is a portrait in blood

and invisible ink


you polish yourself like a pearl each morning

this art is subjective

you tell yourself that

Margaret Wack is a writer, poet, and classicist whose work has been published in Strange Horizons, Liminality, Twisted Moon, and others.  More can be found at
Current Issue
27 Nov 2023

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