They Ask Why You Don’t Just Leave

By: LeeAnn Olivier

Because your lungs are heavy as deadwood
and your eyelids wax and wane, words caught

in your teeth like a dark art, a snake plant,
your tongue a huddle of feathers. The monster

caged, you sleep the sleep of the dreamless,
a triquetra of wolves curled around your shins.

But monsters have a way of shifting shapes
and crawling in. This time he carries a hooked

blade, the tips of his tree fingers flamed
into kindling. You follow, hollow as a vertebrate’s

husk, his horseflies hem you in, their static
a wild cackle. Because instead you carve and cleave

through gnarled weeds, a claw-footed tub upturned
at the cusp of the forest, Orion’s lullaby a tendril

seeping life into your sleeping veins, your silhouette
backlit between the birch skeins, your heart a red

thread spooling. Because you’ll outlive this wintering.
And holy folk will sing over his bones while the cold

sea swallows everything wave after wave after wave.

LeeAnn Olivier, raised in Louisiana on new-wave music, horror films, and Grimm fairy tales, is a neo Southern Gothic poet. She is the author of two chapbooks: Doom Loop Wonderland (The Hunger Press, 2021) and Spindle, My Spindle (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2016); and her writing has appeared in many journals, including The Missouri Review, NOVUS, and Exposed Brick Lit. She is a survivor of domestic violence, breast cancer, and an emergency liver transplant. As a writing professor at Tarrant County College, she helps students navigate their trauma through the creative arts.

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