Check out my poem “Gun Metal,” selected as the editor’s pick for poetry in the debut issue of Rhythm and Bones.
Listen to a recording of it here.
by Ailey O’Toole
I am writing this poem
in my own spinal fluid.
I am all that is left.
How fast can I forget
that I’m alive? Ram
shackle girl spitting teeth
in the sink. I trace the
foreign topography of
my own body and find
God in my skin.
Tonight, I am allowed to be
the girl the men want me
to be. Look into my mouth,
this endless, angry thing.
You have no idea how much
I can consume.
Let me explain how nothing
ever changes, how it was the
gentlest of guttings, how I never
even said no. There was a time
when I would have stayed
and watched everything burn
around me, celebrated in the
decay, but what now?
They ask for details, so I give them
my body. They ask for proof, so I
give them my hands. If you cut me
open, you’ll find a body that was
buoyant in the face of darkness.
I have felt the living heat of things
most likely to kill me and decided
not to stay. I have built a cathedral
of malice and anemic bruises. Of
course it isn’t pretty. Nothing holy
I think of all the ways I’ve been
taught to hide myself away and
I wonder who I will be
on the other side of this.