by: Elizabeth Hazen

I.

In Exam Room 3, I drank
barium sulfate through
a bendy straw, breast buds

rising beneath my hospital gown.
Sharp pangs like scissors
snipped inside me, but the x-ray

revealed no ulcers. In his preacher’s
tenor, the doctor insisted
I had no cause for pain.

 

II.

At the bus stop men sneered,
the “V” on my back like a wound
they claimed was theirs

to heal. The blades of their laughter
snipped my skin. They fed
me Applejack, its heat

spreading, a numbing salve, until
their tongues’ insistence
was akin to tenderness.

 

III.

Girls like you, he spat,
his breath laden with smoke
and Svedka, his hands

rough stones. Thirty-seven
years old, and still a girl torn
and waiting, the old pain

blunt inside me. Girls like
you, he repeated, leaving me
a blank to fill.

 

Elizabeth Hazen is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Her first book, Chaos Theories, was published in 2016. Her second book is forthcoming in 2020.