ELEGY WITH SYMPTOMS
Under cover of darkness, I consider the alternatives. High water. Firing squad. Infirmary. I’m angry with you for leaving me no particular method. Please note I am not giving up yet on the cliff road. What happens to a woman at 19 at 25 at 29 can make her vulnerable to flight. First the tripwires drop away from my fingers. Next I’m learning the names for the parts of a bell. Eggs crack. A chalk line darts up my arm. Here I am as a hairpin curve. Here I am as cyanide stowed away in an apple seed. I am looking for lost arrows. Girl tribes of the hinterland. For scales to fall away from the eyes of anything, anything. Please. I have learned the way rain rots thick in a barrel. Given the relevant texts, I am dangerous. Around me, black bats dive up in the dark. I’ve been wrong, I’ve been trying to pry off the planks from these windows. I am keeping the box that I came in. I am keeping my wrong blood—look at it vine through my wrist like a brand.
EMILY SKAJA has had poems appear in Best New Poets, Blackbird, and FIELD. She is the recipient of the Russell Prize for Emerging Poets, the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets College Prize, an AWP Intro Journals Award, and a Taft Research Fellowship from the University of Cincinnati, where she is finishing a PhD in Poetry with a certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is also the associate poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review.