this body has never been a body
but a constant struggle. I split it
clean down the middle and grapple
with the idea that I exist, with
the urge to make it stop. my
insides are oil pastels perpetually
melting— I assess the damage,
try to remember this is somehow
a thing I own, not a cheap vessel
I rented long ago and forgot about,
the late fees piling like high heels
on my sternum. once while a boy
tasted me, I counted all the paint
chips on the wall that looked vaguely
like my home country, and he told
me I taste sweet like a fawn smashed
bloody on the interstate. I think I
nodded, and wanted to tell him
I don’t know how to be inside myself
right now. I think I covered his mouth
with my clavicle and thought of
the fawn’s mother, how I wanted
to gather her into my chest with
the dead twin lovebirds and
the divorce papers and the snarling
orchids, just to make me feel more
like a home. my body is a mess
of daylight, drips and cools like
a heartbeat. it shivers uncertain
like the ghosts of flowers in their
broken pots. once, my body woke
me up punching and kicking at
a scowling god. it was trying to
get away from me.
there will always be boys
there’s always been this one boy you’ve had a cloud-laced, starry-eyed crush on, but you have no palpable idea who he really is because you have this daydreamy image of him as the knight riding a shiny, well-groomed stallion and he sings musical numbers about you in front of his friends and he’s gallant and sweet and you have no factual proof to base this on but you’re like yes. this guy. this guy is a good one. so when he starts talking to you, you know you must be lucky and you feel like you can’t check your phone often enough and like your chest is full of jewel-throated hummingbirds and maybe he does your calc homework once because you’re struggling and maybe you send him all the funny memes you find on twitter and maybe he sends you cutesy gifs of 1930’s mickey mouse kissing minnie and you’ve already mentioned that you find mickey’s pupiless eyes and waggling arms so unsettling but oh well he’s not the kind of guy to remember something like that. maybe you feel like he’s too good to say no to. like if you do, he’ll lose interest and you’re not nearly good enough to lose his interest and somehow recover. so when he starts to move on you like a cheetah, you stand still. he asks for pictures of your ass and when you take them you think this is not flesh, this is not girl. this is a gazelle. he licks his lips. when he sends you pictures of his dick, you glance once and delete them. you find yourself saying some shit like i want you inside me because that feels like the right thing to say when you’re 17 and a boy wants to fuck you. and there will always be boys— that’s the worst part. you’re spoon fed these ideas that you’re ugly and your body looks weird and when a boy is texting you sweet things it must mean you’re special or pretty or wanted and then you find out in a million different horrible ways that that’s not what it means at all. it means you have a pulse. it means you have a hole. it means you’re the fucking gazelle and his sharp teeth are all but gnawing on your haunches and you’re tired and bored and uncomfortable and you finally spit out i’m a virgin and he does that thing cheetahs do when they completely change direction in mid-air. you’re stunned and it’s over. it’s over and you don’t know how to breathe, you don’t know whether to feel disappointed or relieved or humiliated or worthless. you want to be angry or hurt but you didn’t really think this would turn into anything, did you? did you? every once in a while he likes an instagram post of yours and your brain does this weird, disgruntled sigh, like oh it’s you. the good one. because it sucks when your good perception of someone is completely obliterated, but it sucks even more when you somehow ruin your perception of yourself, too. you wanted so badly to be the version of you without the mist in her eyes. the version of you who doesn’t constantly feel like asking what she did wrong. the version of you who saw him, eyes locked and ready to pounce, and ran.
every time I hear the word finger, I almost vomit—
the way it sticks a little in my mouth before
plopping out like a pale worm. I hate it as a noun
but even more as a verb. he said this is the only way
he knows how to respect me— dragging me into
a men’s room stall after school. the grime and
smallness of it. he takes my shirt off and it’s freezing,
but he says I feel so close to you. and then his hands
are in my pants and he’s groping around in the dark
before shoving a finger inside me and then two and
three and then all his poison and then a whole
ramshackle house and he’s sucker punching my cervix,
ramming and kicking and clawing, like if he beats me
bloody he just might hit the switch that turns me sexy.
he confuses my screams for moans, clamps a hand
across my lips and says you’re fucking mine now.
in the library, he sneaks a hand up my skirt, jams into
me with such slow violence and a woman is pointing
deliberately at the please be quiet sign so I squeak and
sweat and squirm. he calls over his friends, says with
each thrust, look at how I subdue her. they take notes
and snicker. the hunter standing triumphantly next to
the doe’s head. the knife next to a mess of pulp. at night,
I explore myself in the mirror, still raw and swollen.
I don’t recognize this tender, this hurt. my folds have
a new master, my pleasure a universe away. in my dreams,
we duel, and I am armed to the teeth. he brings only his
hands. looks me dead in the eye, and lifts a single finger.
Letter Formed from Note Fragments
I forgot to tell you, but I’ve changed.
am I still in your orbit?
I loop my patience through the eye of a needle, over and over and over.
It cuts clean through bone, you know. I want to remember what blood tastes like. I want to be sure.
I don’t know why I keep telling myself to have higher expectations.
this is the silence, the skin-splitting rage, and I am its fruit.
I feel too old to be living in this skin summer girl lodged deep in winter’s body
I’m trying not to lose myself the way I lose track of the days. they drag their feet, tap again and again at the door, and yet I let them pass by.
time is a person is a jug filled with sky is the shadows growing skinny on grass and it moves further and further away.
your tongue is suburbia, my mouth a cemetery. I’ll spare you the gory details. but there was a plummeting, a star eaten by dawn, and ladybugs exploding from dew drops.
the truth is, I could have loved you. I could have loved you and that’s the worst part. I hope you’re becoming everything you needed, everything my body wanted so desperately to call while my mind was still sleeping.
Wanda Deglane is a capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Yes Poetry, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).