1 prose poem
by April Yu
April Yu is a fifteen-year-old writer from New Jersey with an affinity for language, running, and human anatomy. Her work is published in or forthcoming from The Lumiere Review, Milk Candy Review, The Aurora Journal, FEED, and more, and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Ethos Literacy, and Ringling College of Art and Design. She is a graduate of the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers.
the night your teeth sink into my skin, a fan gutters through the room, rasping air out of slats so thin the spiral collapses into itself. my shoulder juggles the shape of your chin and curve of your cheek and edge of your desire. “i’ve forgotten the last time i was this hungry,” you say. i wonder if you know i’ve hungered for this too. wriggle you out, feel the soft sigh of your canines as they lose the taste of skin again. pull you into my arms as if to say congratulations, or well done, or thank you.
in the other room, mother sings in eddies of tears. lets her voice slide over the shu-shu-shu of the fan until the air strangles. i imagine how the silence and the absence mold around her, seizing her in honey so saccharine her tongue sinks spirit-soft. how her gaping mouth inhales the ghosts of sound waves. how she lets grief consume instead of the night.
five crimson teeth marks indent the strappy tan line of my shoulder. your fingers skim my shoulder blades, my armory of bones. “i think maybe i like to torture myself,” you say. “i only had a taste, not a bite.” i think maybe i like to torture myself too. my body snatches for the knowledge of your mouth even as my brain tugs at the cascade reaction, curbing a tide that learns from tsunamis. your eyes swallow the darkness. kidnap mine in black holes. father looked at me that way, once. like only i could satiate the hollow in his stomach.
when you came over pale as the moon, mother carved a bloody smile into the gaping watermelon, skinned it to the seasick rind. “have, have,” she said, pushing the platter forward. you didn’t say you weren’t vegetarian too, didn’t say your craving lay elsewhere. didn’t say a word about the months-old fruit rotting the counter, waiting for a daughter without a belly to listen to, for a father whose belly would never return here.
the first time i knew you crunched bone for dinner, i held out my wrist and told you open wide. now darkness pools around us, stitches the wound on my shoulder. you skim the beads of blood with fragility your teeth forgot. “have i ever told you,” you say, “you’re really pretty?” on your fingerpads, my insides could be diamonds, strung across throats tight enough to choke.
mother still leaves platters of honey-swallowed fruit outside my door. before school, during homework, after midnight. she walks with a kitchen knife engraving her fingers, singing songs so heavy they splinter the floorboards. the broken wood whispers of the strawberry-speckled tie mother gave father for his birthday and other women slight and soulless. “dripping eyes leave stains,” mother says. she lets her tears sink into her voice box instead, a cage of cartilage. knives do not know how to twist her out.
your lips claim my choker of blood because you have always known how to take. teethy satisfaction, enamel and pulp glistening, positive space. you know, father and hunger forgot me until you made my flesh and bones real. you lever yourself downward, position your mouth at my shoulder blade. the fan gutters a shu-shu-shu of desire. “do you think we should go have the watermelon?” you say as your tongue slits wide open.