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By Caitlyn Alario

my abuser too could inhabit my mind.

sometimes it felt we shared it together, my

grey matter containing those secrets i kept

even from myself—

scooped like a spoonful of my great-grandmother’s

orange & marshmallow jell-o, jiggling &

uncertain on the bed of my tongue. see, she’d

prompt me, it was there

all along. my wrongness was obvious, my

sin unoriginal. she created small

cubbies for my faults to live in, & if i’m

honest, it was nice

letting someone else think for me sometimes (though

mostly it was cramped & confusing & i’d

have to lie down & be still a while). i

found some comfort in

emptying myself of all affect—comfort

in the whistling void of self-abandonment.

once, i used to touch myself without shame, traced

the same five-pointed

star into my palm, my chest, my bellybutton,

repeating the motion like an invocation—

each part accounted for, anointed. here are

we, lord. take & eat.


Caitlyn Alario is a queer poet from Southern California. A Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas, her work has appeared in Third Coast, Vallum Magazine, Annulet, and elsewhere.

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