Dame à la Capuche
Living is long hair, unmanageable in mornings and hanging around
like a shadow, a family name, an unshakeable identity you shake
out daily like old rugs. Each dawn I begin the braiding, weave and
twist the blackness with cold fingers, catch it on rings, lose threads
to the floor. The dye stains, shedded skin of too-slim snakes covering
old wood: a dig site, fossils, evidence of what? I bite down my dreams
and get goose-feathers stuck between teeth until the only difference
between us is you want me dead to bring me back. It can be tempting,
to think a woman is just waiting around to be resurrected, to be breathed
into after you suck the air out. But I will not be resurrected and if the
kitchen lacks salt it’s no great tragedy to me — I’ve made something
from nothing before; it’s not so hard when you see the battlefield
before you and don’t imagine all lives begging tongueless for your aid.
Here in the trenches we cook with tears over fires of our own making,
here we burn eyelashes for coal. The broth doesn’t care:
fat still leaves the bone, bubbles up, breaks the water like I would break
the film between this world
and the next.
That winter it got so cold I burned everything
we owned; used the smoke for shrouds and
the ash as effigy. I rebuild our shared bed
and crush the frame with my fist, I bring back
your declarations and monologues, I create
your face as blank as ever and you might
hold some emotion yet if I spit in the soot.
You recoiled at my need till I recoiled at your
breathing, your beating heart. Liars look up
and left — it’s their tell-sign — so I moved
myself with you like a dutiful moon, orbiting
until left was where I was,
I was the lie, was left.
Sonya Vatomsky is a Moscow-born, Seattle-raised poet and essayist. An introvert, she balances her time between being active in several feminist communities and cooking elaborate five-course dinners for herself, alone, in the dark. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in No Tokens Journal, The Hairpin, VIDA, Entropy, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Luna Luna, Weird Sister, and elsewhere. Find her online at sonyavatomsky.tumblr.com and @coolniceghost.
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Cover photo: Ffion Atkinson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/neonfear/)