By: Genevieve Jencson
When I am sad
I imagine someone
taking me apart
to make beautiful things—
candles from fat
dolls from hair
tools of bone.
The artisans are birds,
I think I am purging
of a horror film
I watched too young.
A man made clothes
from the skin of women
and wore them.
It was the first time
someone might see me
as the sum of my parts—
each worth more
than my whole self.
I want to kill you
so bad right now
a man said to me, once.
there was a knife
in his hand,
but there wasn’t.
The knives were all
in block of oak
in his kitchen.
You choke slow on a plum stone. I find your blue skin in the blue night.
We are still for a long time. I hold you and I hold you and I hold you, and this time I am too late. I hear your last sound and it rings in my bones for years.
Your breath is a ghost from the past. And you are a ghost from the past. And I am just a hot shell full of breath.
The plum’s bloom is five pink petals. I found you once by the ripe tree, where the bees are thick and hum with greed. I walk and I walk and I walk and still I come to the same wet place.
A girl wears her greed with grace. A hot greed for the past. I want to take it and eat it, eat it all.
I eat the charred past. Sink my pale roots in the hot loam and I swell with the shame of the shame.
The plum tree is sick. Bark peels off like ash.
In the split fruit—I find the dry husks of bees and lost teeth.
I have to touch everything. I walk in a curved line and I touch and I touch and I touch, my palms always gray with the remnants, my nails are beds of rot.
I touch my face to know I am still whole. I am whole and smeared with ash.
The time of day is hard to tell. It could be dawn, it could be dusk. The light is gray like death, and gray like thing just born.
Some of us are born with teeth. Some of us are born to eat. Some of us are born to eat ash.
The past is as close as the things we can touch. Heat comes off the charred house.
Our dreams as they fade are as close as the things we can touch. I know the house with the cracked stone floor still a mess of guns and gold shells.
I am still here.
On the stair with my back to the wall. My breath too hot. Dust in my mouth.
Heat comes off my burned skin. I am still here at the source.
I spit my bitter tongue and sleep in the small space between the couch and the wall.
Oh, how those birds grace the sky.
How did they survive? How did any of us survive, when the earth and the river and the sky are all so fucked and so unholy?
I trace their perfect arc with what is left of my eyes. I watch from the small space I have found where I feel safe.
I sleep in torn-up tree roots. I drink unsafe rain. I hum the notes I still know. I say the words I still know. I say them to the dead trees and the smoke birds and to all of these bones I have found.
Genevieve Jencson is the author of the chapbook Lanugo (Dancing Girl Press, 2015). Her work has also appeared in jubilat, Rubbertop Review, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, and others. She has an MFA in poetry from Cleveland State University and the NEOMFA. Genevieve lives in Lakewood, Ohio with her very serious cats, Ernest and Sylvia.