Ruth MadievskyPoetry / Number 93
Okay, so I am always performing
for others, my handshake like sugar
taking the shape of a glass, my tube-top confidence
and always keeping an apology
onsite, trying not to be
the beige of pantyhose, wanting to glow
like a lollipop
pulled from a stranger’s mouth,
but not an opiate lollipop, not a mouth
with its tongue cut out.
My whole life I’ve wanted to not be
the kind of person
who looks herself up in the DSM-5 and checks
the boxes and then fetishizes
how fucked up she is
for checking the boxes.
Watch me pretend that there isn’t
a panic room behind my face
and it isn’t unlocking
like the jaws of every shark
I’ve dissected, that I didn’t choose which way
the scissors turned,
but of course I did, of course
I awoke the eggs asleep inside me.
Yes, I jumped like a pill
into a coffee mug. I argued with the cold
indifference of light
and lost. I resisted
the rituals of femininity and lost. I may
have heard my spine break,
I may have thrown a real or metaphorical phone
at my head, I didn’t die,
I did become a fight
no one wanted to break up.
I read into the feeling
that I’m a cold webbed thing
the Los Angeles River
hallucinated. First there was dark,
then I ate that too.
Originally from Moldova, ruth madievsky is the author of a poetry collection, Emergency Brake (Tavern Books, 2016). Her poetry and fiction appear in Tin House, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, ZYZZYVA, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She was the winner of the American Poetry Review’s Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, The Iowa Review’s Tim McGinnis Prize in fiction and a Tin House poetry scholarship. She is at work on a second poetry collection and a book of linked short stories. When she is not writing, she works as a clinical pharmacist in Los Angeles.Image by Manki Kim