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/aya elizabeth

Tryst Between Ill-Fates and Weary Bones

I used to starve myself. I used to believe that if I disappeared, I could easily be replaced by a goat. I could coat my palm with gold, and once the rest

of me faded out, that palm would look like a pooling sunrise. If I disappeared, my uncertainty would vanish along with my molecules. Take away

my tenuous wrist, then take away the spit in my mouth and the grime under my fingernails. Use the pocket knife strapped to your ankle, or thorns

from the blackberry bush next to my childhood home. I don’t love blood. But I don’t want to think about what I don’t love. Living doesn’t reside in wells, or in

a heart, or a glass of milk. I poured it all straight through my bones. We are lavender and tattoos and sunrise. We are the castle that passes through fire twice and still didn’t burn.

An insomniac never knows which night will be a long one. Which one will knock you out, cold-blooded like a good, long storm. I want to be the reinvention of home to follow

the carving out of personhood, the new rafters that still reach for the stars but within a good, solid roof. I want to be the reason to stay with a shipwreck that loves.

My boyfriend likes it when I pretend

to beat him up, so I do it, to show him who’s boss (in this case, him) and I like it, the chance

to put two bodies in a room, where even an unseen bruise can be a badge. I remember

the first time a man touched me on Market Street learning how to punch, to

twist my arm like a cyclone and ever after my eyes turned from almonds into fists.

My pretty, prizefighting eyes. If I were a man, I would only learn to fight if it

was for glory. If it was all for the match, the applause, the thrill. I don’t live for the honey,

but for the bitterness of an orange rind, or the moments before the bite of a stray cat.

I land my punch on his ribs, my fingers a loose curl, like the tenuous knot of a fledgling sailor,

my other fist gets trapped in his long fingers, and I pretend to try to shake it loose. On

these sheets, my bullying is half love, and half wound.

Aya Elizabeth is a poet living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Typishly, The Write Launch, Up The Staircase Quarterly, Habitat Magazine, Delmarva Review, Twyckenham Notes, Third Point Press, Bluestem, Zone 3, Chaleur Magazine, Cagabi, Virga Magazine, and The Esthetic Apostle.

Illustration by Aliya Smith.

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