By Jessica Sabo ruby throat
sit down she says
make yourself comfortable
put the napkin in your lap / keep your hands folded / sit up straight she says
cross your ankles
lift your chin
act like you are interested
I don’t like sitting / I have too much energy I say
my foot shakes under the table
a hummingbird beats its wings inside my chest
and I feel like I can’t breathe
my lungs are concrete
I am swallowing dust / my tongue is caught in quicksand
pick up that fork she says
sit up straight
wipe your mouth
don’t move too quickly, you’ll seem anxious she says
don’t you dare take seconds
remember these things
my lips are sewn shut and my toes curl
I am staring at the fork
my brow is sweating
it is askew and a tick betrays my body
I am counting the minutes of the clock
my eyelids twitch / the bird is inside my brain now
she is manic, stinging me with her beak like a spinal tap to my meninges
I grip my thighs under the table
I won’t tell you again she says
she points to the fork
there are people in this word who are starving she says
stop wasting my time
look at me when I am talking to you / lift your chin / stop shaking your boot
what is your excuse
I am sorry I say
look at all of them she says
look at their bones
they are an army / battle ready / aiming fire
rings of soot around their eyes as they hurl their meat through murder holes
and claim the bodies left behind
who the fuck are you?
my shoulders are uneven
I say I am one of those bodies that needs looking after
I taught you better she says
CradlesongI remember the crack of your tongue against the floor.
The whiplash reminding me of how you’d shut me up so hard
that my body would turn inside out.
Monsters crawling inside your closet, through the walls, inside the bathtub drain,
and they were coming for you again.
I told you to rise,
I was never any good at saving you.
Even now, my knuckles are embedded in your wet marrow-
fish-hooks into wired bone that cling to your muted voice.
The last night we spoke,
I heard your demon whisper to me across the static-
how to hunt you in the dark, how to find you by scent.
When you finally freed your bones,
I was there to remind you
of how they still belong to me.
About the Author:Jessica Sabo is a freelance writer and artist currently living in Orlando with her wife and two rescue pups. She is an LGBTQ+ advocate, an ardent supporter of the performing arts, and aspires to publish poems on topics related to eating disorders and other mental illnesses in order to promote awareness within the community. Her work can be found in the annual literary magazine, ChannelMarker.