I Ask What You Have and Reach Into Your Mouth to Find - Emily Nason

Overripe peach, wood chips, one licked-clean

plastic jar of store brand peanut butter,

a black pen, my bloody underwear. A bruised

camellia, sticky butcher paper, a box of matches.

All the downy stuffing from your flamingo squeak toy.

I’ve always found violence enthralling.

A package of Cajun Sparkle seasoning salt,

a toad excreting white ooze, mildew, a good bottle

of bourbon. One praying mantis bowing.

That was in third grade, South Carolina History Week.

I’ve been thinking about trainwrecks lately, but no sign

of one in your muzzle. There’s a squirrel tail, a raucous

Canada goose, the yorkie you’re afraid of on our nightly walks.

Dirt, dust, sloughed skin. My shadow in a compromising

position. The beating ewe heart I gave some guy

to ask if he thought this could be long-term, this safety,

this him. Thank you for eating it before I learned his answer.

And this morning, four a.m., I reach into your mouth, find

nothing. Not a thing between your molars and canines.

But you let me keep my hand there, cradle it

like a duck. Drop it, I say out of instinct. And you don’t.

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Emily Nason is from Columbia, South Carolina and is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Virginia. Her work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere.