Emily Schiavone grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and is currently an assistant professor of Physics and Engineering at Viterbo University. She has published poetry in The Naga and Rats Ass Review.
Cheek pressed to a living ground
I felt a pulse the rise of breathing.
A deep vibrating hum flashed from far below.
I felt his voice rub past the ridges in the roof of my mouth.
I kept having this word bubble up inside,
But the first he uttered it was preceded
by vehement professions of disgust.
So I took it to a room in private
And held a flashlight on it through the night
How it begged for sleep
dropped beads of sweat,
its frame slouched in hunger.
I’ve noticed I’ve grown to fear uneven inhales
And the words that the hum of a voice will make.
Taking turns standing heart to heart,
the boys look past the strands of silk
that with each embrace
I wrap around their necks.
When I leave, the strands pull tighter.
Minds come up with reasons
To explain labored breathing,
unable to place the sensation digging in.
Discomfort turns to maddening pain.
Lucky for me and less lucky for them,
Some cannot see past a pretty face
To insides as black as the eight legs of my kin.
Others express concern on my behalf,
As the poor boys chase after
Threatening to sever their own necks
Trying to coax me back.
They were right when they said
This was something they never felt before.
But they were wrong in believing
The feeling was mutual.
Words like a last meal of a single olive with a pit,
Insignificant yet alluding, reaching for more.
I’ve seen sayings about finding fault with a fish
For its inability to climb trees.
I should have listened closer to the words
‘Would always find me’.
Despite the talk, when the hot water hit
Withered and dried in a favorite glass
Words fell apart.
World opens and closes–a revolving door:
One moment here, next onto more
–a sachet of beauty, strength, and insecurity.
Picked from a not-so-near category
I’d been distracted
by a lingering taste pitted against my fleeing.
Left to own devices
Light, simple, unrefined and too green
Worlds fell apart
And with them the count of the lines that dropped.
I felt my boundaries weren’t where I left them.
I found the moment when the scraping sound of the wheel stops,
And I realized this is the last strand
This container has got.
In the shower, I molded the clumps into portraits.
The filter is changing color with steeping.
I’m not sure if that’s helpful or not.
Water color man
The rain fell hard.
The colors nearly washed away
Then settled in the heat of a reappearing sun.
I imagine he’s the result of a brush dipped
In the bottom of a pool of colors run together
–heavy, thick attempts at solid strokes
with a rotating brush angle
Over violet side-palm smudges of a past work.
Monochrome highlights textures,
And shadows dive between stretched creases.
At times, underside pink tints splattered sprinkles
Of a fallen herbal tea dipped sailcloth
Over a razor blade sketched hull
I suspect he himself may have painted.
After all, he’s right handed.
The tigers laughed at my new stretch mark
For who could love past such a stripe?
I’d chosen to fill myself until my boundaries split
Thus labeled a most abhorrent form of gluttony.
I resent the ink pin pricking of healing stripes
And vow to keep to my own: my shame, my pride.
Estimates say there are 3,200 of them left.
I’m proud to say I didn’t harm a single one.
I went as far as googling ‘how to skin a cat’
But in fact, I made one breakfast the other day.