CD Eskilson: I Was Outnumbered
Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Photo: Joanna C. Valente



I knew I wasn’t writhing. Wasn’t

chipped soapstone or opal


or granite slivered off a sea cliff.


My legs itched raw, I sprouted, plucked

the first words off my feathers. Pushed


tusks back with a thumb. My tongue

speared when it bristled like a boar.


I poured warm olive oil and salt

into my wounds. I hid. Until the wings.


I knew I was outnumbered; by her teeth,

forked speech, what left me a screen door.


Her fingers twined a whine around my talons,

a fuse box sparked our cage. In my legs


the sound of splintered tongue depressor.


Once I caught a cannonball aimed for her

            and it welded to my palm—


            perhaps I held it as it cooled to me,

            perhaps learned to pause inside of choking.


I knew my wings were scissors, shrapnel-shaping

flight. My plumage dug up every village

gifted screams;


            where statues tilled the wheat fields,

                        blackbirds nested into elbows.


I knew I wasn’t named except the ululating in a pyre.


CD Eskilson is a nonbinary writer, educator, and editor living near Los Angeles. Their work has appeared in Teen Vogue, the Cardiff Review, After the Pause, and elsewhere. They are an associate editor for the Exposition Review. They also like reenacting David Lynch movies and drinking coffee.