This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Becoming Persephone by Mary Ann Honaker, released by Third Lung Press in 2019.
content warning for rape
The Children of My Rapist
Since I no longer pray,
I tried centering myself in church, my mom
tugging on my sleeve when it was time to stand.
Entranced, I checked in: my sacral chakra
seemed to have disappeared, a dumb anchor
in a chilly sea; the protection I’d built
around my heart chakra turned out
to be a nest, and all the eggs were cracking.
It was a nest, and the cracked eggs were screaming.
A tennis ball blocked off my throat chakra,
initiating a scratchy pain
that shot straight to my right inner ear.
The ear he hit me in, I thought, and,
There’s still something I need to say.
I become a movie internet sleuth.
You do it like this: in your pajamas
you sit cross-legged on your half-made bed
and snoop using google, facebook, instagram.
I find his reputation is 86% positive. I know
his wife’s name, his baby-mama’s name,
the names of his sons. I facebook them:
faces smooth and taut as waxed apples.
Pop bands, sports: they are not at all like him.
Who has prayed their names under crescent moon
and stars so bright they seem on uppers,
to deities and demons known and unknown?
Will those prayers be answered?
I find no extant photos of him, instead,
a possible relative of indeterminate age,
whose brows and cheeks are swollen
with the waters of indifference, of years.
The photo album in my head has suffered
bright empty rings of sun exposure,
fretted edges, circular gray stains
that may be tears. The photos have been enlarged
by importance until the pores of his skin
could be snaps from the rover on Mars.
They have been shrunk so small for transmission
over distance, they’re hardly more
than the endless blips of binary code
we all swim in, numerous as grains of sand,
numberless as the stars. Amen.
It falls out like it falls out, always:
the boy is made of water. What charges
are made cannot stick, float away
like discarded soda bottles to litter
a tropical cove. What charges
aren’t made leave him
with a reputation of good, by 86%.
He loves and leaves and raises nice boys.
In a good year he makes more than the girl,
in a bad year, the same. The girl’s
aura changes color like a mood ring
held under hot water, then cold.
She falls through decades
in the haphazard fashion such girls do,
then finds a tennis ball in her throat chakra
the Sunday after Easter,
and even though she’s a writer,
she doesn’t know what to do.
I should save a word for those hatchlings,
my only young. When they cry too shrill
I soak their soft feathers in red wine
until, pouting, they settle down.
Sometimes, late at night, I feed them
shreds of flesh plucked from Forensic Files.
Yuck, yuck, whines my mother
from the far end of the couch. Born from violence,
the little hatchlings fill their gaping mouths.
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