More shallow grave than bird’s nest

I dream of burning my body sometimes.

……..I stopped bloodletting
months ago
……..after the scars on my arms        began oozing

out hopes for everybody to see

after crimson thighs
…………………………………………………began to shout
and molt      shedding desire and guilt.

……..I am less pure now.
my collarbones were more        shallow grave
than bird’s nest

          dirt of decay not birth

now they barely protrude       ghost
of mirabilis and nervosa a memory—
…….me now        supposedly unhaunted.

But spirits lurk in profane places

and I am       have always been        unholy

…………………………………………..my mouth and lips a sin
my eyes transgressions       rimmed by
november oceans.

I never wanted to be pretty
I wanted to be empty and clean
……………………………a shell of diadem girlhoods gone up in smoke.


Madison Zehmer is a senior at Wake Forest University, majoring in history with minors in Jewish studies and psychology. 

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