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Check out my poem “After” in the debut issue of Rhythm and Bones.


by Ailey O’Toole

There is loss and then there is how it lives

in your body after // organs shoved out of place

to make room for the grief // body cavities overflowing

with things that you do not have the words to describe

yet // because how // are you supposed to explain

that you now share this anatomy // with something

else // something that is and is not you // something that is

stealing // all the air from your lungs // and you’ve

forgotten // how to get more air // You feel the beat

of your blood muddying your veins // shuttling

the loss through every inch of your skin // but no longer

understand the purpose of your pulse // Your nerves

are convulsing under the weight of such calamity //

You will forget where you are or // how to get to

where you are after // There is the sun and there is

the afterlife and the density // of knowing this fills up

any empty space that’s left // in your body // You will be

Betrayed by this skeleton // and the things it holds onto

in the wake of this // You will want to tear yourself

out // of your own skin // try to find the place where

the catastrophe // has nested itself // split open

your own skull if you have to because my god

the loss was painful but // how it lives in your body

after // is so much worse.

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