its living in the curtains, pulling at the
matted gold rope, so gently that if you
blink you might miss it, entirely, and
no one would believe you,
anyway, not until it shook the
dust from its deeply grooved
skin like snow, packed curbside by
dirty tires. it could take your hand
at six am and pull you from someone else’s
sheets, billowing outside the flat, with teeth
chattering, too distracted to notice the black
ice until it’s too late, and its
inside your chest, now, tugging
everything it can find, and you can’t
remember the french word
for “help,” and even if you make it
back, intact, they’ll still only ask
what you were doing out of bed at that hour
without a coat.
you said i was a baby bird
saving a baby bird,
i was already burying the shoebox.
i am the shovel.
my first sewing kit
at first, it’s a thread that,
when picked at, opens
to a hole the size of a quarter
the dark, wet mouth of which
swallows me, instantly, then
swells and fills with a thick, red
molasses that i wade through,
thigh-deep and when i finally
get a handful of the stuff, it squirms
and squeaks and clicks like
fire ants, piled on top
of one another, a smattering
of feet on heads and backs
gasping for air, burning holes
clean through me with their bites
and digs, flooding into my limbs and
burrowing into each muscle
until, finally, i manage
to tuck the thread back in.
if you could step wide enough to clear every
soaked sunday paper
clinging to the cheap linoleum floor
then you’d still have to climb, white-
knuckled to the railing, paint
chipping into your palm, the way
those baby monkeys
clung to wire draped in rags
thinking it was their mother.
you’d make it to the door, just to find it
looming, swollen shut with saltwater
threatening to wash you away.
safer to light a cigarette, tread barefoot
across the dirt lot, back turned to the house so
i can see your silver, soot-caked hair
your frame shrinking by the minute
or maybe i’m getting bigger
or maybe it’s all wire
draped in rags.
Aubri Kaufman is a multi-genre writer with an affinity for the unusual. She holds two undergraduate degrees (one in English literature and one in psychology) and a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. She finds that her background in abnormal psychology and criminal neurology tend to weave themselves into her writing. A handful of her work has been published in various literary magazines, including Pink Plastic House and Rewrites. She can be found on twitter and instagram at @aubrirose.