are you haunted? you are not.
when you open your mouth, which wolf is speaking?
which animal are you feeding?
if i opened my mouth, the birds in my throat would never stop beating their wings. every word would sound underwater
a flutter and gulp, nonsense, all regrets
no use. the music’s too loud. it’s a quickening,
a pearl under my tongue, a film reel flickering
before the hiss and the burn of it all coming off the rails.
somewhere, someone is dodging, grasping for purchase.
there’s a moment in the slip where you feel your body move
but your breath stays still, you shift
slightly left, or maybe right, or whatever direction dizzies you most.
at night i pull the pins from my hair. each one’s a mistake.
that time I grabbed your arm too hard.
the moment i looked at you and you weren’t looking back.
that instant where i could have taken your hand in mine and said
please, just once. just here. like this.
i collect them in a teacup that the cats are always overturning.
slick as an oil spill on the tile, loud as a mirror shattering.
pick them up, one by one, this one your crooked teeth
that one the weight of your hand hovering
or the gravel of your voice at two in the morning,
the bird in my throat that keeps singing your name.
MADISON CHARBONNEAU is a UMass Amherst graduate who loves 30 Rock and lowbrow movies. She works in mental health and addiction recovery and reads tarot as a side hustle. You can follow her on Instagram @mcharbon and on Twitter @lez_lemon.