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by Emily Griffin

The short story is
the Baptist helped me out of my skin
then flew away

The longer story begins with mother
An entire life confiding in her non-attachment
Rejection whispered into emotional mechanisms
I returned the kisses and trained my mind to escape

I heard stepfather tell her I should
help entertain the Baptist
He devoured the tension in her voice
Her eyes kind of dead, deep
A fresh face among all those masks

The demon creature at my temples
desperately wanted someone to confide in
The Baptist’s face was forever fading
into brilliant, angry snakes
He had power to push the demons from our den
to mute the human-sounding cat cries and
break the incestuous bonds keeping me from escape

I offered my gruesome curiosity and openness,
invited him to ruin everything I had in the world
He served up tight rejection
laughing like a spider big as a cat

I’d lived on false affection since birth
The Baptist’s flashes of brilliant tenderness
wouldn’t blot family legacy from my mind’s eye

Morbid clarity came to me
To simply jump into a man’s name
wouldn’t banish horror from my life
I’d always be mother’s daughter

Mutual destruction winked at me over the horizon
I had my own horror to work
The Baptist sat unmoved by my glory one minute,
fell in a knife flash and curtain of blood the next
I became the ultimate devious woman scorned
The name Salome a nightmare on their tongues
No one remembers mother

About the Author

Emily Griffin is a queer librarian, poet, and food enthusiast from Brooklyn, NY who aims to capture life’s most visceral experiences using interesting, accessible language. She uses techniques from both surrealist and confessional poetry traditions and also enjoys using the figure of the monstrous woman to subvert the reader’s faith in the social contract as it stands. Her work has appeared in the anthology Aurora (published by Allegory Ridge) and High Shelf Press. Her work is forthcoming in Abandoned Mine. She earned her BFA from Emerson College and her MLS from St. John's University.

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