« Rachel Bunting »

From His Side

Catalog it. Write it down:
compare my tongue to a scalpel
and expound on how it wounds you,
slices open your skin with a swift
slash. Describe my face, tell all
those who read your poems that it’s
a face you have tried – and failed –
to love for what it lacks. Use metaphors,
make me a weasel, a boar, the snake
who slithers at your feet, binds
your ankles and holds you here.
Call yourself a war-zone refugee,
a broken soldier finally going home.
Whatever you do, don’t include the rest
of the truth: you are the one who left;
you closed the door. I was here,
waiting, wanting, waiting.

Breaking the Skin

Our words stretch around us
like a skin, fold us into a small dark
space – so small I can’t see how
close you are to me. But I feel
your hot breath in the air, hanging
like fruit just ripened and headed
toward rot.

I am longing now for us
to drop to the firm earth, split open
and leak out what’s turned sour.
But you cling to the branch, unwilling
to let go and sow yourself
into something new.

What’s to come is the part
I thought we’d avoid: the division
of our life into sections, the picking
through all we didn’t want
to know about ourselves and the resentful
seeds nestled deep within.

Skin is mostly just a shield, a way
to shut inside what no one wants
to see. I begin by peeling away
this thick integument.
I will not rot inside a skin
that no longer fits;
our words will not hold.

Haunted House

And now the knocking begins in my body.
Joan Larkin, “Jew in Paris”

See these teeth: aged planks that hide my words.
Pry them open one by one to find the syllables
I have choked on over the years, collected there
in the closet like moldy robes: mother, failure, marriage,
compromise. What about the eyes? Two moss-covered
gates always opening, never closing. I cannot lock
them, though I have tried; the garden has run wild.
Now hands and fingers, deft louvres that swing
shut against the promise of foreign skin. I do not lead
to nowhere. These bones are not rusted hinges creaking
in useless jambs. Tock, tock.
Do you hear that?

I am inhabited, lonely as I look.
If you knock, you must come in.

Rachel Bunting is a born and bred South Jersey girl who is currently learning to live outside the Pine Barrens. Her poems can be found in Edison Literary Review, Mad Poets Review, Journal of New Jersey Poets and the online journals Wicked Alice and The Barefoot Muse. She is a dedicated fan of British bands from the 80s and is a terrible dancer.

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