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Photo by Ahmed Zayan red mushroom beside grass

Cheerless Marrow

the months don’t stop

the days always begin

brain, be quiet, for once, please?

how many hours have passed in fatigued sleeplessness?

with a yearning for a dim and soft space to envelope more than my body?

a cocoon of peace, so full and penetrating that I hear my bones exfoliate, where is it?

I have a prisoner in my soul

she lives somewhere under my rib cage, with my heart her sun and my lungs her winds

surviving and breathing in wet darkness, like a cursed fungus,

clinging to my insides and suckling whatever joy I can send down to her

as if blood and tears are suitable hydration

convicted and sentenced by a sadistic hate

I killed her at some point.

maybe it wasn’t me

maybe she died on her own

shrunk down like a cold phoenix

never to rise again, hidden and lonely, unburnt

dispassionate, despondent, dead

a tiny bubble of half-alive, half-eukaryotic existence

squirming in dirt with the bacteria and enzymes

a challenge to the concept of “life”

are mushrooms ever alive?

she is my spore-girl, waiting for a chance to

speak to the moon

have one night where she emerges, grown again, a sudden expansion

softer and more fragile than flame

will a fairy circle bring her back?

I believe in magic, but I don’t believe in myself.

Spore-Girl likes to write

she can hear the scritch-scratch, tip-tap

a pen on paper, a marker on board, my fingers on keys

the softest music reverberates in the highway of my cheerless marrow

like tin-can phones ossified from adulthood

the solid drums I never knew could be lyrical

if I thrummed them with enough attention,

bouncing fingertips on my clavicles,

trying to tell Spore-Girl that the rhythm is for her

whenever she feels like it

the collarbones hold my happiness

a rattle and shake to release the sparkles

sometimes I feel a fool hitting myself, but it works.

Spore-Girl delights in devils too

like when I give her more rain through harm

the excitement of holding a knife

feigning a stab to her home

the smile on my face when I laugh it off and sheathe the weapon?


we remember the time when she could

swing from my bones

click her nails against a cage

brush her hair in a mirror with a solid view through my eyes

she used to be larger, stronger

remember the phoenix?

too bright and too manic

I wonder if she ever had feathers

or if I misjudged her as a bird when she was really

a demon

horned and enraged, so ready to hurt

a bat

flitting for darkness, so willing to leave

a moth

drawn to the danger of heat and light, always easy to die

there is no rest when flying.

I catch myself holding my body

as if the couch, the bed, the earth

won’t hold me

as if I am the only thing

keeping myself upright

as if Spore-Girl can get a better view of the moon

as if the winged maniac will burst out more easily

if I squeeze them, constrict my muscles

insulate my bones with tension

stop the blood

stop everything

become a rock, a stump

more suited for a perch, a fungal home

gone and done

waiting for erosion

send me back to the oceans

send me to my dying, bleached namesake

bury me again

in sand, in crust, in timber and ritual

we all know it’s coming,

so why not sooner than later?

I believe in magic

I believe in magic

I believe in magic

even when it won’t remove my curses.

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