By: Wanda Deglane
Ode to the Woman Who Tried to Destroy Me
after Maitreyi Ray
call me slut. call me vomit-colored soul. call me pig
too filthy for slaughter. sit at the back with the other
parents during my high school volleyball games and
call me vixen, call me slime-toothed viper. point out how
tight my shorts are to the other moms and say, that’s the
little whore. say it just loud enough for me to hear. call me
gutter rain. call me rot, call me eternal slop. call me bird
corpse licked clean of life. check each one of my teeth like
a horse and call them bloated, drowned children. take those
photos you keep of me and parade them to every son you
find: my 15-year-old body posed naked and trembling. small
breasts and rib cages so heaving and white they scream
surrender. collect my dead skin cells and sell them as ashes.
call me slut, call me temptress, but do not call me slug. don’t
call me gray-skinned or beaten or half-eaten. don’t call me
wounded, feeble, tepid cunt. I am growing sure into the
blooms you tried to light on fire. I am draining my blood
clean of your venom. I am claiming this body a whole planet,
a liberation, a fucking force of nature.
Grief, and the Holes it Dug in My Organs
this blood I spit up is the blood of my mother.
is this body a body, if only a house for rage?
is this house still a house if its walls crushed
us a decade ago? there is a mangled songbird
where my lungs used to be, tiny smashed bones
chiming pretty against my ribs. some mornings
I still pull feathers from my throat. this fear, this
guilt, these hasty yeses sitting ready in my mouth,
are all my brother’s. or maybe they’re mine- there’s
something unrecognizable in the way we jump in
frozen water to quiet the pain, in the way it never
works. there are knife-toothed leeches sucking on
my veins, but when they take blood they also take
courage, and when they leave shiny moon-sized
welts, they also leave behind more grief and fury.
this hurricane hair is my sister’s. someday she’ll learn
to fit the world inside her anger too, instead of the
other way around. this is how I survive another day:
I forget and then remember and then hold screaming
contests against sirens running home in the distance.
I pretend and hoard more silence in this life raft tongue.
every animal that’s ever died in the history of the world
dug its graves in my fingertips. every tear wiped from my
cheeks is just another global cataclysm. deep down, I
wanted this to be about peace, about forgiveness. there
is not a soul left in my body that knows what that means.
September is another thing for me to carry / that ten-ton grain of mist / sitting comfortable on my back / September is preschool-aged trauma / refusing to let go of my hand / slipping moon-colored glasses over my eyes / flowers become rats become child-sized skeletons / September is heat stewing in its own uncertainty / lingering in the doorway of its own unwant / it’s tiny piranhas / taking bites out of all my night terrors / my organs are studded with diamond / like unnecessary beauty / like there’s something inside me that needs to escape so desperately / it’ll shred everything it touches on its way out / I love only in hurricanes / I’m gripping my rage by the throat / then making her breakfast in the morning / I am crying plateaus into thick-scarred canyons / holding all my potential in my hands / this gift thrumming sure like a pulse / I am accepting that there is something inside me / that needs to ache right now / grape soda cans and bee-crowned honeysuckles / my therapist points out my reflection / says, look at this / look at how crazily, dizzily, drastically you’ve improved / I touch my cheek / I say, jesus fucking christ I’m glowing / the sky sheds its own melancholy / and washes the insides of my rib cages clean.
Wanda Deglane is a capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and family & human development. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), and Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019).