by Kate Shakespeare

She had to take the mobiles down,
pull the butterfly stickers off of the cheery yellow walls,
push the crib into the closet.
She re-gifted the little toys, blankets, unopened diapers,
but not until after they’d collected a millimeter-thick layer of dust.
It was a while before she could bear to open that door again,
to buy a bed frame and a new mattress for the guests,
or, even, to let superfluous items pile up inside.
So, for a year,
the room was mostly useless.

He’d disappear in the middle of the day.
(This happened long before her womb rejected
a whole litany of future children –
not that that exactly improved things;
he just got worse.)
He never hit her,
so sometimes she felt queer
for despising him so much,
felt queer that the only reason she had kept him around
was in the hope he could give her a child.

She was awoken by feet scuffling
on the hardwood of their bedroom,
and as the covers lifted
and the bed dipped with the weight of him,
her anger pushed her blood through her veins so powerfully,
she couldn’t sleep for hours afterward.
She just glared at the armoire across from her,
the moon shining through the curtains
making her pale, angry face
seem paler and angrier still.

She couldn’t tell the you why, exactly,
that she did it.
But she looks upon the jury unflinchingly
and describes the feel of him on her tongue,
the texture, like any other animal she’d ever eaten,
the heady copper taste
like a thousand blisters splitting inside her mouth.
She describes how her hands seemed like claws
when they tore flesh free from his gut, jabbing her gums
when she’d stuff the pieces into her mouth.

She lays it all out there
not to frighten, but to explain.
She thinks she can make sense of it,
that maybe you can, too,
if she only makes it vivid enough, that she can make you see that
laying what was left of him down onto the nursery floor,
the piercing, pitiful cries,
the (literally) gut-tearing pain,
the weight of him, sitting inside her belly –
it felt like he’d finally given her what she’d always wanted.

Kate Shakespeare is a technical writer based out of Salt Lake. She takes her last name as a personal challenge.

Photo by: Ana Prundaru