Lovers at the Table
You’re coarser than I expected. Thick-
skinned, bristly, almost scaled.
You told me to be contrary
so I’ve practiced by screaming.
My voice has changed, rough-edged
& more brutal. There’s
in my belly
that you can’t quite kill—
I don’t know its name, but it’s shaped
like a four-legged animal
stooped low over stolen prey.
Stinking of wet fur & new blood,
I too am scavenger-shaped.
I’ve hooked my talons
into your shoulder blades
to claim your heart from behind
or below. We track the night
into & through the night,
following other hounded voices—
filthy & ecstatic & deceptive.
But it’s riskier to track
than the objects of their pursuit.
So this time, let’s be civilized. Let’s use
silverware. Let’s share
like fresh bread, you
& I—just one more dark
This is a memory of me, and it’s not mine
You opened my body like a clam, skull
to thighs. The knife that split the shell,
your tongue. Now you sharpen
deep into the pale meat
the blade reaches. Buried beneath
my flesh, notching into the bone.
By speaking, I might make
my veins, tendons
and ligaments visible, revealing
my body’s hungry acumen
as I strain toward the animal thing
that is always craving
and waiting within you,
on the little breath
you have left. So you see,
my body keeps the romantic shape
of absence, extreme
from the instant
that the knife sank deep.
No one saw you. No one
saw us. So they can’t say
what they don’t yet know—
passionate and deceptive,
the hand wielding the knife
was my own. And like a tamed
instinct, I lost you somewhere
between my shell, my gut
and my mouth.
Another god astride a four-legged animal
Note this: both fire-born, but
we didn’t even burn into each
clipped to my ribs, tickling a lung—
making every deep breath
brash, a brave act
unsettled. Unsettling. The body
feels peeled, upturned. And bent,
just one strike away
from burning alive. Come, get
inside. Use my skin
for your overnight shelter, bones
you can squeeze between, sleep
among. Hot flesh
to feed from, safe as a young cub
with a good mother—fierce
under her fangs
and rough tongue. Then, during
our post-survival, you can wear me
like a fur coat,
the kind of victory and violence
that’s long since gone out of style.
And silence: this final
of what the heart hardly wants,
but is still left wanting.
Emily Paskevics a writer & editor currently based in Montréal, Canada. She is the author of The Night Was Animal, or Methods in the Art of Rogue Taxidermy (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Her work can be read in Hart House Review, Vallum Magazine, Acta Victoriana, and Rogue Agent Journal, among others. Read more at http://creativetroublemaking.org/, & follow along on Twitter @epaskev.