I know it seems unfair, but have you seen what I look like?
Teeth a flurry of cyclone, lips puckered like an asshole.
I blinked to life in a puddle of excrement in skin its perfect match.
Before you drank me in, I drowned a thousand siblings.
Stamped my stump on their faces until their eyes burst
and I rose to your lips, slipped into your sweet pink mouth.
I take my time in the core of your body.
Here, I am the adorable magnet pinning the precious first painting.
The plush lovey keeping the child in its own bed all night long.
Soon I erupt into the stalk of your eye, throb color into drab.
You are blinded, no longer afraid of sunlight,
and when it strikes we quiver and strobe
and I make you irresistible.
In another incarnation, we pinched each other’s cheeks,
crushed berries and rubbed their blood onto our lips.
We tightened corsets until our ribs were more cave than cage.
Practiced first kisses on the backs of hands we’d lotioned into silk.
We promised we’d never forget what we meant before
something came along and made us matter.
*Originally published in Stirring Literary Journal in 2016.
Elizabeth Vignali is an optician and writer in the Pacific Northwest, where she coproduces the Bellingham Kitchen Sessions reading series. She is the author of Object Permanence (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and Natural Bridge. Elizabeth Vignali and Kami Westhoff’s collaborative manuscript Your Body a Bullet was a semifinalist in the 2017 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook competition.
Kami Westhoff is the author of Sleepwalker, which won the 2016 Dare to Be Chapbook Contest from Minerva Rising. Her work has appeared in various journals including Meridian, Passages North, Third Coast, Eclectica, Waxing, and West Branch. She teaches creative writing at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Kami Westhoff and Elizabeth Vignali’s collaborative manuscript Your Body a Bullet was a semifinalist in the 2017 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook competition.
Photograph by Peter Lewis.