You shuddered when I held the fish cheeks in my hands and ate the sweet
meat from a spider web of bones, sucked the fat through my teeth.
I tried to convince you that it tasted like well water from a spigot,
delicate and metallic. That night I ran my fingers across your back until
you snored. I went to sleep with the memory of bone on my tongue
and dreamt of cracked lips and cresting waves. In the morning you rose
first, shoveled snow from the walk, scraped ice from the latch
on the barn door, folded fresh hay into the chicken coop.
When you meet me in the kitchen it is with a cock’s tail feather—
iridescent ink with chips of ice from resting in the snow.
You’ve forgotten last night and the quick work my hands made
of a skull. Now I’m aproned, creaming butter for cakes, pink
skinned from the stove’s heat. You tip the feather across my brow
stand behind me, thumb the hem of my shirt as it hits my hips and bite
at the curve of my neck. Yours is the mouth begging for eggs.
Advice on the Occasion of your Marriage
Learn to touch yourself first. Marry a man who will suck marrow through his teeth. Marry a man
who buys thick cuts of meat and doesn’t complain when the butcher paper goes soft and his
hands smell like blood. Never have a child with a man who is afraid of blood. Never marry a
man who likes it. At some point in the marriage your husband will want to fuck another. Don’t
worry. At some point you will too. Weigh hunger against patience. Marry a man who will suck a
pit even after the sweet slick of fruit has gone. Learn to touch yourself first.
Justina (she/her) is a graduate of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars and is a multigenerational caregiver living in Baltimore. She shares a home with her family, where they pack the house with as many fairy tales, and as much laughter, as they can fit beneath the eaves. She writes from the intersection of motherhood and womanhood—both have sharpened her teeth, called to her with green throats, and have asked her to recast the myths of her mothers.
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