Your dress the smallest size of the most holy sea,
parting what you can control, what you can’t,
in hopes the prophets will transcribe your body
into the Good Book, into a love letter on how
difficult it is to reach bone, how
a mental gymnast in your head helps
avoid your father like fish held up to light,
scaled & secret, a lamppost that illuminates.
The eye of one trout can become
a mystic overnight & all your fears are true:
You are a thing to be used in a closet
like a woman found folded in half to please
whoever & after three days, against her will,
her body blooms into louder & louder sounds.
Tend to the Body Like a Bonsai or Prayer
Her body blooms into louder & louder sounds
when lines are drawn, when release flows
after the sting. She can be found
wandering candy isles in grocery stores,
counting calories & minutes it would take
to unmake one wrong decision. It is easier
to buy blades to appease the buzzing sound
of bees in the brain. Isn’t it beautiful
to take the body back, tell it
how to behave. Before she lets him climb
the last few inches, the rest of him
appears—a boot, a hand, forearms—
target without a map, tells him, You’ll like the jade tree
&, spooning the sweet-sick, eat up, honey.
Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick's work has appeared in Salt Hill, Stirring, Versal, The Texas Observer, Devil's Lake, Four Way Review, among others. She is listed as a contributor of both poetry and prose in A Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault published by Civil Coping Mechanisms. She has chapbooks out with Thrush Press and Mouthfeel Press. Hardwick serves as the poetry editor for The Boiler Journal and her first full-length, Before Isadore, was recently published by Sundress Publications.