CW: sexual assault
Inside the picture I felt a little lovable like a little kid version of myself again—adored and adoring, doting and doted—and I thought how lovely it is to be a picture, to stand still amidst fixed elements—a flower just gone to seed, my lover’s hand forever in my grasp, the child growing inside of me—a pause, it’s like soaking in a bucket of gold, to be rich in stagnancy, melting into the cosmos of the unchangeable, becoming an element as fixed as iron, mercury, iodine—to wish that this prayer of framed capture could stop, if only temporarily, all necessary losses.
Speaking from a neutral place, I do believe in my astrological findings. I am a Libra Sun, a Taurus Moon, at once air and earth perhaps the space in between, a floating thing. Yes! A floating thing, that’s me, however temporary a dilapidated house in the sky with a door always open to something holy. How to intervene in the undoing of the gathered in mourning? How to explain the feeling of occupancy in the dilapidated house of my body? I’ve been told all my life that the door is open to any men who see fit to enter. How many years it took me to undo the consequences. My body: further, the alienation. But that is the beginning of the work: undoing stories told by monsters who are only performing politics without knowing how all this energy can translate, how anything can happen in the slow anger of communal meals where houses stacked upon houses sit deep in prayer for karmic consequences. Somehow it will mean riches for the dilapidated, I know it. It’s intervening in a functioning form—a gathering of fear and of hope, harvested into something like joy.
How to Build a Nest
Wrap yourself in gold
to distract him from
the spindles in your gut.
Make him fly with song,
lull him to sleep,
no don’t quit
until he hits the soft floor.
Suck his brains through
his ear with a straw
made of gold,
make him mush in your mouth;
feed him to your young.
Lastly, break his bones
with your beak until it’s brutal;
make of him a graveyard,
a monumental frame,
where you can live with him as decor.
The Futility of Prayer
always thought you wanted to be a boy with curls tucked behind your ear and a filthy brow, dirt beneath your nails. always were confused without a cock in your hand oh where’d it go because you always thought you were a boy until you weren’t.
always guns ablaze when you grew up and flattened your chest with binding until you left town in your suspenders and the red coat mutti made you, a dollop of blood in the armpit where she pricked herself stitching.
always mutti knew you wanted to be a boy. she helped you leave in the dead of night, she did. she would lie about what happened to you and your horse and she would learn to forget you.
daddy was a musician but not in the way you’d think. instead of clubs he’d spend evenings in the garage, his audience his father’s tools and he’d pray as he clanked around himself trying to fix what couldn’t be fixed because he didn’t have the
mind for it
because he didn’t have the
heart for it
because his daddy
never loved him because
he was one outta ten
those kids when
he was a
tried to be
good but he’s
never been a
in all that’s
broken can only
like the futility
Violence as Synecdoche
There was the time my uncle put his hand
on my thigh, a danger I couldn’t think only feel
in the way every muscle tensed. I was old enough
to know a danger and to stay away. I was 12.
Then the time, my first dance with a small boy
ruined as he pressed himself hard, at first
not knowing what I felt on my soft stomach,
my discomfort his excitement so he pushed harder.
And the time another came at me as I fell
asleep, his sharp face above, hands already
pressed under underwear, fingers inside me
it hurt hand over mouth he said I was asking for it.
As well the time I slept at a friend’s, crawled
to safety only to wake with his dick in my mouth
choking, hands pushing away as he whispered
oh we can’t, I know, though I couldn’t speak at all.
And the time a woman said:
Were you drunk?
Did you scream?
What’d you do?
I want to say my body is a mistake or a reckless thing; what if it never went out at all?
But the time more women said:
I’m so sorry.
As if our flesh is not synecdoche,
as if men’s skin would not feel like our skin
if we were to cross it.
Rachel Ann Brickner is a writer and multimedia storyteller from Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Joyland, PANK, Anastamos, among others. Currently, she’s at work on her first novel and several projects about debt. You can see more of her work at rachelannbrickner.com.