My Vagina Will Be the Death of Me

In the morning a storm like breath
dimming in dread twists like silver
around fingers, a bit too tight
so it leaves a mark, almost stops
blood but faintly quivers back—
larger like smoke from a house
fire—blacker—heavier like
colonial brick. Part of surviving
is to keep moving, grow up
& ignore the distance where
dogs sometimes bark—most
people will try to write a novel
without using their hands, praying
to a sack of human bones dug up
in the sand, ask WebMD if
we’re hypochondriacs, if a man’s
hand at the base of a woman’s
vulva is haunted with alien symbols,
is a weapon salting infertility,
is an abandoned Victorian decomposing
in Louisiana heat, his hand over
her mouth stales her desire for
anything, her mind sets an ultimatum:
Heaven or Brooklyn? When she
gets home she tweets #StruggleCity
& cuts an apple like sun lighting
the holes between maple branches,
a voice wafting a million years homeless
like burning garbage the shape of
woman’s first body, a hole drilled down
the middle of a long damaged earth.

Joanna C. Valente is sometimes a mermaid and sometimes a human. She is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014) and received her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Some of her work appears, or is forthcoming, in The Huffington Post, Columbia Journal, Similar Peaks, The Paris-American, The Atlas Review, among others. In 2011, she received the American Society of Poet’s Prize. She founded Yes, Poetry in 2010, and is the Managing Editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Her ghost resides here: