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The Skinning House
There’s howling in the woods out back.
………………………..The creepy light at the bottom of the pool.
………………………..All my fucking hair in the bathtub.
There are empty spaces inside me, places to hide my failures, and here I am hiding my body in broad daylight.
. ..Tell me, what’s romantic about my undoing?
The table of instruments looks eager and my chest is so fleshy and human.
If you’re going to cut me open if you’re going to get low down,
I’m going to wail like you’re pulling something out of me—
Loosen the cuffs At this point, I think
I deserve to hear some answers . You want me to present
the body . well here it is—
………………..drunk / naked / wiping mascara
………………..all over the cellar walls
Never again will I take .a beating, gracefully
survive a blurry walk . out of the woods
hollering for mercy like .the whole thicket’s on fire,
my heart snapping .like a bird’s leg
………………Go ahead, search me/ find me / I consent
I have a scar on the inside of .my belly button where
they ripped out what was left of .my broken organs, in trouble,
my small shoulders stowed in the cellar . for weeks, haven’t let myself
see another man shirtless in cutoffs .sweat out the best heat of July
To hold myself prisoner … .any longer would be foolish,
but the truth is .I still don’t know whether or not
I’m innocent .. .I’m innocent
There’s a thing in my chest,
a punch table I’d like to swallow.
I cannot be afraid to tell it all wrong.
Here are the facts:
I know that I know how to kill that makes me an adult.
I know I might not leave here with the amnesty
I hope for, but that the rest will become
clear in the short time I’m allowed.
So what if I didn’t give up
the ship let the record show I drew flags
I carried dangerous goods
—a proper wolf whistle more leg
my prowl fearsome as a waitress
waking up from a Blue Ridge wedding, lips swollen, and twenty-two rounds
gone from the pistol.
When I mentioned the gun, just now, what did you imagine my body doing?
Something like dancing, but not dancing?
A shameful celebration?
This is what surviving feels like—
the fact is he didn’t kill me and now I have a long time left to live.
Clearly, I’m doing the best I can.
I had to take my spoiled body and build lights around it.
Get down on my knees and pray
I’d be visible again.
I witnessed every terrible thing my right hand would show me.
I’m not asking you for forgiveness
because there’s no danger in my nakedness.
Every ambulance has their reason for speeding away,
but not all of them will stop to admit it—
I can only hope to be judged
not by the precision of my actions
but by the consequences of my confession.
Half lullaby half field-holler
I’m not just chewing with my mouth open.
If the saying’s true if you love someone
you should get to know them as best you can then I have tried—
All that drinking I did last winter, blown-out hose and skint knees,
my dress ghosting floor after foreign floor,
I was just trying to take my body back.
Meg Wade was born and raised in the hills of East Tennessee. She recently received her MFA from the University of Arizona, where she served as poetry editor for Sonora Review, and was a recipient of the 2013 Academy of American Poets Award. You can read her recent work in CutBank, and forthcoming online at Phantom Limb. She lives, writes, and teaches in Tucson, AZ.