Somewhere, a woman drowned three babies
as my mother lost her fourth.
If arithmetic works as it should,
the ground understands what it’s like
to be opened in a way
it wasn’t originally meant for.
Some horses turn wild
because a life within a stable
is no life at all.
Not like the life of a misunderstanding,
where each cell is nothing but water damage
and each bone an oar.
Not like the life of one
who ends the life of another.
There was no real evidence for their origin,
their small and elfen bodies,
faint trace of tequila around the ears.
The day we brought them into our home
the whole town was flooded with darkness,
all the men taken to filling the mouths of glass lamps
with honeyed kerosene.
The women did their best to nurse them
back to health, milked until it shone
like drippings of the moon.
Beneath the sky opening like an orange palm
we thought of all the children
buried in garbage chutes
or pressed beneath stones at the bottom
of the river, wailing
as if it could bring down the stars.
When we were both girls, our mother
sent us to bed with full bellies every night,
but my skin browned while yours grew moon.
I practiced with knives
while you sang with the reeds.
There were stars I’d never seen
outside my own head,
having forgotten the language for coma
and instead remembering the taste of wind.
Strange, how many men the body can let in
How the universe turns the world like an apple,
how the same DNA
has different words for loss.
Meggie Royer is a writer from the Midwest who is working in the domestic violence field in Minnesota. Her poems have previously appeared in The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, The Minnesota Review, and more. She runs a literary journal, Persephone’s Daughters, dedicated to empowering survivors of abuse.