complaint v3

I’ve heard a lot of things about me. Some say I take up too much space, like a rash of carnivorous wildflowers, teeth-lined petals waving in the wind, biting at its meat. Some say my smile is aberrant, a plump glower wrinkled with ridges of flesh. No one ever told me I was empty, a hull of a broken ship. It wasn’t until he filled me, rolled himself in wool that stuck to the boards of me, the wood of me. Wool that dripped down his nose and out of his mouth, stuffing me. It was then I felt empty. His hands felt rough as they ran over the fibers of me, feeling my rigid breaks and I would pray that he’d pull away with a piece of me under his skin. He carried a switchblade, and I exposed the underside of me, expecting his name to hurt. He left me full of the words he etched. And I cried against blue walls lending purple light, because his name wasn’t there at all. And I should not—should not—be surprised. “Fragile” is burnt onto me, foreshadowing the day that I’m driftwood. The day I’m sand bitten pieces. He pressed his fingers against the smoked grain and lamented. He thought I was something good, before he knew of the fingers that set grime on my stern, the feet that had trounced on my sails. He made a place in me, before he’d seen the termites in my gut. When he learned what wood would wind up where in me, he made sure I knew he could do better, that no amount of wool could fill my hull. And you can find me floating across a bathroom sink, the faucet still running, a tattered sail in the mirror. No one sets sail in a broken thing.





Water made me, laid on my

mother and held her close 

until her hips ached and her

spine shifted and there i was

fully formed with two front teeth,

and she sang because she wanted 

to, because she needed too, so water 

could hear the song her voice made with 

mine, so it would come forth when it heard, 

and so, it ran down cheeks and jawlines, necks 

and forearms that wiped the wet occupied hollows 

that eyes are, and water never left me, never left her, 

it sits on her back and shoulders and churns in my gut, 

with the jealousy, the rage, the love, and lust that i often 

feel  when  i’m  confronted  with  the  sight of  it stretched, 

laying under endless sky like a playful housecat. the soul 

that could be born from that union; a labor of love like me. 

does  she  thirst  for  the  sensation of  water in her lungs, 

pressing the walls of her veins, a wrench of wet cracking 

bones. I  wait  for  the day water  might  hear me  again, 

and  steal  my  breath, and hold me close, for water to 

fill my womb, drape over my collarbone, speckle my 

skin listening to that same song my mother sang 

to me—Oh, sister! what news do you bring to 

the  blessed,  the  barren?  what  song  of 

water and sky did you carry with you?



mars robinson, a student of University of Cincinnati, is her mother’s daughter.