By Chimedum Ohaegbu
Content warning: domestic violence
listen: you cannot find happiness
by sowing seeds on your tongue.
i know, i know, you’re sick
of swallowing violence til your throat runs red
and the last fight loosed your pearly whites from your head.
you necklace your teeth for safekeeping
and they rattle prettier than windchimes,
too loud for you to steal even one wink of rest.
and maybe bleeding would be less like bleeding if it tasted of nectar.
and you might feel as i used to,
that if shame and leaking cuts must colonize you,
it’s only fair that beauty
should bloom in that pink wetness
just once—i know, i know
it’d be so nice. wouldn’t it? to choke
on flowers rather than on words unsaid,
words dying and dead?
why, unmaking the graveyard from your mouth
could skew positively dreamy:
digging deep, burying and burrowing,
six feet under just the beginning,
mud clotting in your audience of scars
as you trade tastebuds for rosebuds,
saliva for salvation,
bruises for butterflies or hummingbirds or bees—
better still, all three, why not relearn greed.
apply sweetly stinging pesticide atop your lipstick
and watch your smile sizzle to death in the mirror
but a garden growing from your gums,
a garden gargled and spat, spent, to petal the floor
is neither cure nor prevention—
i promise you this reckoning is worthless.
i promise it will do nothing beyond making you sororal
with that money-mouthed girl from the fairytale
except lovelier, and worse
Chimedum Ohaegbu (she/her/hers) attends UBC in pursuit of hummingbirds and a dual degree in English literature and creative writing. She’s Uncanny Magazine’s managing editor, a co-founder of FEMMES Interactive, and a recipient of both the full 2017 Tan Seagull Scholarship for Young Writers and a 2018 Katherine Brearley Arts Scholarship. Her professional debut was longlisted for the Nommo Award for African Science Fiction and Fantasy. She loves tisanes, insect facts but not insects, every single bird and magpies especially, and orchestral music. Her fondness of bad puns has miraculously not prevented her work from being published in Strange Horizons, This Magazine, SAD Magazine, Honey & Lime Lit, and The Capilano Review.