Alissa Simon (she/her); Washington, DC—

Alright, before you start the tape

Wait – wait sir, before the questions roll

Let me shake out these silver bangles

Shrug the dust off my mink fur stole

I expect you’ve soaked my prints

In the black of a back room, a red bulb burned

And as my features came into form, the cut of eyelids,

From my breasts, my lips, the jagged incongruence of my hips

You’ve therein discerned 

My guilt, heavy, heady, a mulled scent of seduction

And with it, some young girl’s swan song, a tragic carol of corruption

God, what girl! What nightingale you’ve fabricated!

Milky, downy thing, soured and spoiled

By ash and misplaced hands and baby oil.

No, I nursed on lemon juice

Forwent pocket money, made my own rouge out of marrow

Forwent molars, second dates, a seat at Father’s gilded table

I undid my own corset, born illogical, indulgent, lush

I see you now, terrified of my wanton flush

God, what she-whore! Meat and teeth

See this madwoman, nails curled inside the beast

Muscle rippling from spine to skull

Lacquered talons, belly hanging full 

She raises her arm like an indictment, a prayer 

And sings it, swinging, down, down, down

Over the kitchen table

Why, it’s your sweet wife

Who wields the scythe, good officer, when you’re not home

Arched over the cutting board, scratching chicken from the bone

God what woman! Woman! Her collarbones, curtain hooks

For a starched, touch-starved sheet of white, looks

Like her side of the bed.

Your palm is too big for her mouth

Look at the two of us, hands splayed on this metal table

Golden-webbed and offset by unfurled fingers, twenty knotted cigarettes

Let’s pool them and make a bet 

Until neither you nor I have hands splayed on this metal table

On a young man, what man! Supine, sputtering as he choked, 

And I, slicing apple beneath a silk-clad knee.

Come now, hand them over, 

Whichever one blows more smoke walks free.

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