Half Girl, Half

My mother dreams of a tooth falling out and someone dies.
She tells me in the morning as my father sleeps, a herald
of death with her needs, her unspeakable quiets. (Oh, my.
I’ve said it again, this thing I’m not allowed to say. This
ugly, terrible thing.) Her mouth is splitting at its seams, a
ripe, red wound. And I can’t breathe for being alive. Unlike
my mother, I don’t dream of augury, only my own
particular hell. It has no name but I imagine it: in the great
night a great swan spreading her great wings above me. She
is falling up, like the ghost of Icarus. Half girl, half
thread caught in the air. My, my, my girlhood, I no longer
belong to you. I must unravel myself to find you. It’s that
terrible kind of loss, a womb sharpening its teeth where it
once might have grown an eye, a mouth, a face. That first
bite and all at once a flowering body within the great body.
I confess I am terrified. All this time & still life goes on
like a perpetual bride to the pulpit. Slow, slower still. I
move like a Venusian year & my wings two fine vampire
teeth. I taste everything and nothing and everything. Oh,
maybe I have been too spoiled by the springtime. Maybe
life will open up quietly, quietly — and we are finally,
suddenly like sisters. But tell me otherwise. Tell me the
mouth cannot keep the dead, cannot grow flowers. Tell me
I am alone & I will never be alone. Tell me what to do
about this death I have made. I keep making.


Adelina Sarkisyan is an Armenian-American writer based in Los Angeles. Her writing has been nominated for Best of Net and appeared in various publications, online and in print. She is the Poetry Editor for Longleaf Review. Find her on Instagram @adelinasarkisyan and Twitter @etherealina.

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