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November 15, 2021 Poetry

Three Poems

Ellen Skirvin

Three Poems photo

Tenth Grade Anatomy

Together, she and I slice the rat’s belly like white cake,
expecting bubble gum pink, chewed and coiled, confetti. Like
the deer split open, still steaming, we spotted on our walk here.
But stalled time, warm classrooms have turned its insides grey.

She pushes my hair away from the open animal, and
I say it smells like her stepfather. We forget
our third lab partner, who writes the answers we cut open.
He asks if we are lesbians or something like that.

After the last incision, tiny organs smeared like boogers
on a metal tray, she whispers what would you do if I ate it?
This is a game we play, but never finish. I grab her hand,
thinking it’s my own and tell her I’d eat it too.


Exhausted Night

Bats feast and dance in the wine-stained sky like phantoms in a ballroom,
abandoned. Sitting on a porch that belongs to me now, I check my pulse.

The dog in the yard with its tongue falling out
Looks at me like we’ve been here before, like I should remember

The names of flowers that bloom pink, and sometimes purple,
And sometimes never, because someone important told me this once.


Before Dark

She and I hold hands, lean back, trust against each other’s weight, and pee. The night burns faster than we imagined, and she tells me to leave the empties beside a severed tree. Bugs will call them home. I believe her for too long, even after she tells me that aliens watch her at night and NASA can’t be trusted. But that will be years later, after I leave and come back. For now we run from a bulldozed field—a sacred place, upturned—kicking up heat and loose dirt, catching breath, always running back to places we can’t remember.


image: Doug Paul Case