by Madison Zehmer


a ribsong of grief rises above shrinking flesh /

detailed in the grooves of outstretched palms / it

thirsts for something more than just sustenance /

something like prayer / listen / you can hear it

lilting / slow and hard and sharp / almost a

death rattle / whispering skin into dusk /


this body is not just yours / darling / it

is earth’s / see the scars on your fingers / the

sweat on your nose / you cannot lose what aches /

you cannot dissolve / you can only molt

into the grief of dirt / the mourning of

wind / love / do not die just to become / see

what burns / let it flicker away into

light / let it cast gleam on heavy fog / let

it drown in the puddles under your soles /


the purpose of breath is on the tip of

your tongue / hold it there / gently / and swallow /

until hurt melts into body / soft as

birdsong / tender as soil / holy as rain /



Madison Zehmer is a 22-year-old emerging poet and wannabe historian from North Carolina, with work in Déraciné, Gone Lawn, Drunk Monkeys, LandLocked, and more. She is the editor in chief of Mineral Lit Mag, and her first chapbook, Unhaunting, will be released by Kelsay Books in 2021.





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