the devil riding your back

ten years old when the ocean spat beasts and they
walked the world with strides the size of cities and i hid
i coward-cowered from the noise of it and the dark
until they crouched into mountains and slept left us
shaken shabby in their footprints, peering out.

fire and rubble and everyone died. i
grew up. we built houses, went to school,
wore swimsuits, got haircuts, grew old.

when i was a young girl vital,
unstooped, no concrete dust in my hair,
on my skin, no glass underfoot,
no dry shale taste, i was face-up,
i was raw strong, i sang, i belted.
now i’m hours under the writing desk
staying very, very still, with muffling
curtains, with scythe smile ghosts i’m
holding onto clock face hands to weather
hydraulic hammers, the kick and the sway,
the ground’s grand betrayal, the city
and the beast’s heel pinching like a mouth,
our bodies, teeth ground together so i

became so small a mote a molecule. i lived
the innocuous life i soft-stepped i folded down
and down, careful, prepared, precise.

everyone knows that the mountains are dead and i know that
they’re alive drool and blood and fire deep inside inhale ten years
exhale twenty i am ready the taste of grit under my tongue didn’t
fade the gaze on the nape of my neck never left me alone ever
since they were dead i am grown and this time i’ll be ready.

Originally published in Liminality: A Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Autumn 2014.

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