Three Poems | by Emily Paskevics

Lovers at the Table

You’re coarser than I expected. Thick-
skinned, bristly, almost scaled.
You told me to be contrary
& untamed,

so I’ve practiced by screaming.
My voice has changed, rough-edged
& more brutal. There’s
something ugly

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
the trackers

than the objects of their pursuit.
So this time, let’s be civilized. Let’s use
silverware. Let’s share
this meat

like fresh bread, you
& I—just one more dark

into another.

 

 

 

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
the tip

with ambivalence—
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,
dependent

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
other. Talons

clipped to my ribs, tickling a lung—
making every deep breath
brash, a brave act

unsettled. Unsettling. The body
feels peeled, upturned. And bent,
furled, always

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

cold-shouldering
of what the heart hardly wants,
but is still left wanting.

 

tumblr_ny1mnxwjpN1rxx9sho1_500.gif
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 ReviewVallum MagazineActa Victoriana, and Rogue Agent Journal, among others. Read more at http://creativetroublemaking.org/, & follow along on Twitter @epaskev.

 

 

 

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