For K.— | McKenzie Dial

The bathroom walls,
built like Red Beard’s gallows;
lights roped near corners
crowned with flint, laced with
fire. The skeleton girl, her skin
like citrus; neither of us knowing
of the treasure within our bones.

Each night is like a map,
too many spots to be marked;
our chests have been built in castles
made for men with wrought hands.
It has always been me, she says,
and I want to crawl inside of her

arms and breath. Now each bathroom bulb
burns the ark we built together, charring
wood to ash, ash to lye. She stands
over me, guiding my head beneath
the faucet, the bathtub coated with
soap scum and salted tears. Ropes
moisten, and she throws me
under, like an anchor

unembedded

————
McKenzie Dial is an Illinois native and her work is forthcoming from The Vehicle and Vagabond City. She currently serves as a nonfiction reader for Bluestem.

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