she says, too insatiable. Don’t you know these things take planning? Father was salt-skinned and whiskey; built coffins in the mustard plants, in the hard mud. Chopped boards from the porch. From my bed-wall, my exorbitant spine. Back to river, bones to fish: perfect thief, I started small: sticks of butter from the pantry, the blood heart of a rabbit. Yes, I took the cello as my own creature, ribbed and lunged: skeletal song. Press close, little criminal, and mark this: you have no claim to the womb, to the born body. All I have is what I stole.
Melissa Atkinson Mercer is the author of the chapbooks Star-Blind in the Family of Fortune Keepers (forthcoming, Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2017), After the Miracle Season (forthcoming, ELJ Editions, 2017), and Storm Was Her Voice (dancing girl press, 2016). Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in A Bad Penny Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Fem, and others. She has an MFA from West Virginia University, where she won the Russell MacDonald Creative Writing Award in Poetry.