by Shannon Hozinec

What woman doesn’t wear the name of her god
somewhere below her waistline, hidden in the abyss

borne by the enveloping grin of her funerary skirts?
What woman waits around for a man to name a thing

instead of stitching the very grit of it into her tendons
and reveling in the rich vulgarity of ownership?

The dead travel fast, but the stench of them
even faster. Who tied those lilies to your ankles?

Who tried to hide you away? I remember
a time when buzzard tongue was all I had to offer,

when tender pulp genetics dulled my head and heart,
but now I don wig and gown and am feminine

skull parade, a creation myth masquerade,
Mother Tartare on a death-stained plate.

It isn’t surrender if the swarm ripens
in time for the labor pains. It isn’t theft

when this necropolis isn’t good enough for the two of us.

A grave looks like a womb if you squint hard enough.

What better place is there for a birth?

When I opened the sodden lid of you,
a thousand hungry flies nestled

deep in my hair, a thousand hungry dark-eyed children
warning me that at a moment’s notice,

that with one collective twitch
they could move me where they pleased –

out of the maw – or into the forge –
or into the heart of the god

whose name I had long ago tucked
between my legs so I would no longer

suffer the passive over-my-dead-bodyism
of creator-in-a-cage, of muted displeasure.

My meatling hymn fell on deaf ears as I dug and dug and dug
but never tired because we, the dead, are patient, aren’t we?

We, the dead, are so, so patient, our innate maker’s brutality

but an inadequate salve for our sorry past, a past that handed
us wires and fucked us into a different kind of decay.

In that history, it was never our kind of dead
who received broad-shouldered boastments,

never our kind of dead who benefited from rosy-hipped
revisionism. We looked too sickly under that halo light.

Our bodies too referential for their liking.

So with a grin I rouge our hunger, and I powder our regret,
because what woman hasn’t wanted to roll the sleeves

of her bridal shroud all the way up to her elbows
and be the reddest at the ball, made live again

using only what she could find
rotting within herself. All we have

is this scavenging – we are hand over hand
with this waking. We scour ourselves with formaldehyde,

our Wondrous Death Fake-Out,
our Great Youth Heist a blinking marquee

under a sad bloated moon. Our Knell of Revitalization,
Our Collective Undeath, Our Lady of Virgin Tissue Donation.

Baby’s First Steady Purpose
served rare on a platter of bones.

Rise. Can’t you hear the opening chords of the revival song,
the death has taken vein and the chorus is ascending.

Creation is a woman’s wound,
and the stitches are all in rupture.

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