you were born screaming / like a peeled grapefruit, ruby red / and skinned raw, the taste of fresh bruises already / on your tongue. you were born / with no name and in seconds / one sneeze and the world swallowed you / whole and with open, greedy arms. you were born / boiling mad and terrified, tiny fingers reaching / for light, but there’s no more sun / in December. no one in heaven missed you / your mother says, ripping through your hair with a wide-tooth comb / she says your hair is a storm, and she never did / like rain and thunder. your parents said they were lucky / you were born so easy, no effort, so bland, really / but they took a bite and found you sour and sharp like spines / more prickly pear than daughter, so they spit you out / and called you a lie. one day you take scissors to your skull / hate the hurricanes your head brews with every / hell-bent cell in your body, so you snip away / strand after strand falls like ribbons to the floor / first with fear and then only with resolve / this is what it feels like to lose / this is what it feels like to let go / this is what it feels like to do it all on your own / and you realize, it feels a lot like nothing. no car bothers / to slow for your lemonade stand when you are eight, so you drink / it all, one sticky-saccharine June, first in tiny / guilty sips, then down in gulps too big / for your small jaws. you tell yourself / if you must be a disappointment, then you’ll taste / every bit of it, down to its last sickly sweet drop.
IN THE DARK WITH A SHOVEL
every morning i wake
i think to myself today is
the day the insects have finally
eaten my lungs then i open
my mouth and suck in
the sharp metal air and
cold dirt and sometimes
my mind struggles to remember
how i got here but what little
skin i have left still fears you
what little blood i have left
makes my heart scream furiously
and rattle at its worn cages
the body remembers
how did it feel to touch me
that day all my blue skin
and force kisses on my purple lips
i wanna know how did it feel
to conquer my bones and know
they belonged to someone
who lay like a corpse beneath you
frozen and numb
suffering but paralyzed
how did you sleep that night
you were drunk on moonlight
and raw domination and you
watched the earth swallow
the last of me
i’m not ready to be a flower
i use the last muscle memory
i own and when my eyes peel
open they sound like trees
being ripped from the ground
root by root and when
my mouth opens it’s
still singing and my fingers
are all still here my hands
and goddamn i will spend eons
clawing my way out if i could
just feel the sweet moon
touch me one last time
i’m coming i’m coming
To the Boy Who Tried to Save My Soul
You want to tell me: you want to love me the way
you’ve fallen in love with the idea of a threesome,
but the thought of my lips touching those of another woman’s
makes you grimace like a toddler with broccoli on his plate.
You want to tell me: you want to love me the way
you’ve fallen in love with the idea of saving my soul.
I want to ask you: do you look into my eyes and see
the devil and his ocean of hellfire, giddy to consume you?
Do you throw yourself on your knees before bed
and beg the Lord to spare me from eternal damnation?
You want to tell me: when you so graciously shove your tongue
down my throat, you sing, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Lord, I’ve rescued her.
I want to tell you: there’s a part of me that wants to love you
the way I love girls, if only to stop the half-hidden stares and whispers,
but then comes the thought of the soft, sugar-sweet skin of girls, their mouths
like wide, luminescent moons crash-landing in the soil of my heart,
and- well, there’s nothing pathetic or desperate enough in me
to love a soul as puny and lackluster as yours.
I want to tell you: no part of me needs your saving.
I want to tell you: I won’t ever be sorry.
i ache for the woman i could have been had my middle school teacher not called me a slut, had she not said, “i don’t trust you alone with boys, god knows you’d corrupt them.” i ache for all the things i could have become had she not told me that’s all i’d be good for, had i actually any hope that i could prove her wrong. i weep for the dreams of my mother, long-lost but still hopelessly waiting at the back of her throat, dreams of being a teacher for small children, sweet as peaches, of baking cakes and painting the twilight and never having a daughter who raises her voice. i weep for those honey days when, as a little girl, i truly believed i was worth something, that my life would be full of shimmering possibilities and light that was always within reach. i weep for every day after, when those hopes were smashed like bloody mirrors. i mourn for the plants i brought home on a whim, the ones that told me they were indestructible, over and over like they meant it, until they shriveled up beneath the dust-coated window on a day i couldn’t even stand to take care of myself. i weep for the polar bear mother, her rib cages puckered and chewing through her flesh, her cubs already swallowed by the sea, yes, i weep for her. and for the moon, i mourn too, as she watches on through half-covered eyes as the world dies, as the oceans boil themselves into silence and the whales stop singing. i ache for the women who spread their legs for mediocre men, who fear above all else what those men would do if they opened their mouths and said no, i ache for all of us. i ache for the woman i could have been had i not learned that the hand that hits you hardest is the one that loves you most.
Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and family & human development. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, The Wire’s Dream Magazine, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places.