Feature image Sainte Sebastienne, 1992, by Louise Bourgeois. Drypoint, 38 4/5 × 30 9/10 in. © 2016 The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY.


Some say marriage is a twinning.
A surgery of adding attachments.
When I undress, the dirt throbs
for me. The mushrooms betray
chastity and parade their vile shape.
Why, among this applause,
have I become so small in this life,
why has love taken away my face?
Some women pray for a husband
who will take the sky in his fist
and break it. We do not sign away
our power to men who sog
like paper boats. Whoever we marry:
we vanish like a trick. What sickness,
to call a woman wife just once, then
call her chalkboard until she is a puff
of white dust, a vague outline
against a black sky. I have so little
of my own. I could hold this new
worth in one hand. When my husband
fucks and plunders through seasons
and countries like a migration
of hurt, I am left in a field of women
giving birth to mirrors of their own
vanishing lives. This is the painting
I have become. My life is not to be
worshipped. I would trade it to the god
of bolt guns or knives. They say
there is beauty in the dark eyes
of a cow. I am out among the neglected
bodies looking for beauty in this slaughter.

Meghan Privitello

Meghan Privitello is the author of A New Language for Falling Out of Love and the forthcoming chapbook Notes on the End of the World. Poems have appeared in Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, A Public Space, Best New Poets, Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a New Jersey State Council of the Arts fellowship in poetry.