Scar Tissue Land

I don’t recognize the yellowed veins of wood

chapping into hot, sun-hardened beams. It has been too long

since I came here last: to the scar tissue land

where my pets are buried. My brother, a perpetual shadow,

whispers from miles away, and the pale blonde cats are here again,

their hair settling in clumps on dusty lapels.

Microwaved curls of clover that burn up

a brilliant green leave traces—never to be as they were.

Everything foreign will dissolve with time,

but I am so alone that I need the arms of this

decaying porch chair—if not any other in the far,

rusting world—to meet mine. Meet

my wrists, whole and uncomplicated

like the falling mist that sets gently down

summer’s warmth, saying heal over now.


Today a flute harmony dug its thumbs into my collarbone

and hollowed me out like I had meat inside. 

It left a husk that set my teacup down

on the white wicker table across from my mother,

who was reading Pound’s Cathay for the first time.

I still don’t know how to say the word beautiful to her

or how to say that I feel like a gutted crab shell

without using the word beautiful.

Even a creature boiled alive must release steam

along with its last shrillnesses

and those cannot be lies.


I miss my old life.

The only breaths I take now are while writhing—

I once cared about things like weeds

and the number of chalk marks on my walls.

Last year we held something

to our lungs too liquid,

too pliable to be contained by hands—

we dropped it and grasped at the shadowed debris

of sunburnt prairie weeds

and wetless teabags—

shriveled mummies

now stains in flower-painted porcelain.


If I am the bigger one of us,

wrap me up when you’re done.

Take what’s left of me home, and

preserve me.

For the hell of it,

apply me to your skin—

being still young, I will try my best

to soak in, to dissolve the film.

At this neighbor’s fence, there is no tired

there are bicycle spokes, and

there is the sound of you

opening a can for me.

There is no sleeping, even after I have seeped in.

There are bubbles, and

there are burrows

where boneless animals mate.

Bess Amelia Yeager is a recent graduate of Kenyon College and current resident of Indianapolis, IN, where she roams city parks after work with her father’s film camera.