He wraps his arms around me
and holds me till I fall asleep.
Last night I slept for almost
six hours, the longest
I’ve slept in weeks. He is happy
I didn’t wake till 4:30, happy
I finally felt safe enough
to sleep beside him.
I don’t tell him I dreamt
of drowning, of him on the shore,
with my other. My other holding
him back as he tried to save me.
I wake gulping for air,
try to forget
the dream, try to forget
the taste of salt water flooding
my mouth and nose.
The next day we go to the beach,
While he reclines on a blanket,
I swim slowly into the turquoise
water, my eyes on him
the entire time.
A Girl Becomes A Woman
a child learns the world by putting it in her mouth, / a girl becomes a woman and a woman, earth ~ Ilya Kaminsky, Firing Squad
I think of everything I’ve put
into my mouth, all I’ve swallowed.
At first, words: no, stop, I’ve changed
my mind. Then my hands, my feet,
my ability to fight, to run away.
I swallowed my voice, grew smaller, shrank
till my hip bones jutted like handlebars – till
I could be steered in the desired direction.
I chewed off my skin, removed the dark ink
that bloomed on my arms, my back. Revealed
the unblemished baby-pink. I keep swallowing
till there’s nothing left, till I disappear into the dirt,
the earth finally swallowing me.
I wonder how many lives I’ve lived,
this cannot be the first. I wonder
if I make the same mistakes each
carnation, if every time I’m seduced by his
hands, his mouth, his easy lies. If every
time I quit school and leave
the country, following that same
man. Does he break me in every
life? Do I live in the same version
of the same town that I hate? Do I stay
there for nine years each life, caught
in his grasp till a restraining order creates
a gap wide enough to slip through?
Maybe future me can travel back
to previous me and give guidance.
Perhaps future me can convince
current me to let him go, walk away,
move on. Perhaps past me can
remind me I’ve made these mistakes
before. Perhaps current me could listen.
Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix Review, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill Press, Haunted Waters Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at www.wordperv.com, follow her on Twitter: @wordperv, or find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc.