Poem with Another             Between its Ribs

          She said            I don’t want you who wants me with
          Now you’ve made a                                          three-strand braid, her,
                                                Such shy glances and
          the ghost, and the dog.                             she’s strong in that
                                                   Speckled smiles,
          trinity, echoing her                                                   lovely little self-harm
                                            Now with another now—
          lies   in    the    mirrored                                    darkness where she sleeps at
                                                     Married, or—
          night   and   takes all   her                        meals—salted—in the day.
                                                   Looking at her
          The ghost wraps around                             her, a hex warding her away
                                                  Look at me again
          another   while her                                           haunted hands wave
                                          My breasts, it isn’t wrong.
          them   closer,    razor                                  blades beneath her nails
                                           My masterpiece lips and
          to scratch out what dares                            cause harm: a lie, white
                                                     Nasty tongue
          or-, a shoulder, cold                                       or-, a lay, consensual, or-,
                                              You are never enough
          an eye, evil, or-, a                                            hand,   helping or,   a
                                             With your dreams small
          tongue, silver, or-, a                                        smile,    crooked or-, a
                                               And even smaller pants
          song,      pretty     or-,                                      Solitary domestication
                                             But I need you to look at
          familiar and softful, but she                  has given up petting her dog,
                                                         Me again
          afraid of cutting out the only            warmth   in   her sleigh bed.   She
                                                           At me
          wishes   he would                                        come   closer,   unbidden
                                                  With heat in your
          lie   against   her   chest                                where her ghost carved its
                                                   Strong enough to
          name, leaving    it                                                  gaping as an
                                  Chase the ghost lights from my eyes.

~after Bob Hicock

Kalyn McAlister teaches English and writes poetry in Edmond, Oklahoma. She lives with two hounds and a ghost.