Bap­tism

Poets and Writers - - The Practical Writer - From Lessons on Ex­pul­sion. Copy­right © 2017 by Erika L. Sánchez. Reprinted with the per­mis­sion of Gray­wolf Press, Min­neapo­lis, Min­nesota, www.gray­wolf­press.org.

When the soft mouth of a word un­hinges, it is sticky, it is feral. Be­neath the plum tree

I’ve wo­ven my gray hair into a blan­ket.

Do you think I’m pretty crouched like this?

See, I am my own whore. Watch me swal­low my own fin­gers. My head a wild tan­gle full of crea­tures. Do you hear that—the lovely hooves and man­gled pi­anos? The egg I hold in­side my chest, it’s what the dark­ness ate. In the hot swamp, in the bat­ter­ing sun­light, I tie my braid around my neck and bury my name un­til it’s silent as a jewel. Feel my salt burn in the cracks of your lips, feel the fat pulse of my ten­der throat.

It’s the shud­der of beauty. No, no, the shut­ter. Watch me dance on bor­ders in this dirty dress, un­til my wig catches fire.

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