Mary Ann Honaker


Gwen cracks her ribcage
with a ballpeen hammer.
She spoons the contents onto the kitchen table.
Everything is small,
everything black and oily.
Everything wiggles
like salted death-done slugs.

She forces herself to look at it.
She likes to tell herself this looking
constitutes progress.


Gwen's boyfriend accuses her
of leaving food out for the black dog.

He's right, of course. Soon he'll find
stiff bristles embedded in upholstery

and smell doggy musk in a corner
and realize Gwen let the damn thing in—

that dog has drooled on every pillow
in the house, left a ghostly indentation

on Gwen's pale and thickening thigh
where he laid his bucket head, was patted.

When Gwen goes for a walk in the woods
she drops the leash and tries to leave him there,

but he's swift as air and twice as loyal
as a retriever. He's waiting by the car

when she strolls out, lit up with sun.
Sometimes he's in the car, leash still on.

Gwen, that stray dog has ticks;
if you get bit you'll sleep a whole season.

Stop giving him food. He'll wander elsewhere.
Gwen removes her liver, leaves it in a dish.


Gwen notices in the bathroom mirror
that her face grows lighter and lighter each day.

No, not wan, as if sick; not pale, as if needing sun,
but rather more porous, like lace.

The next day, she is like tissue paper, she rustles
in the breeze from the opening and closing door.

A week later, she is colored cellophane, suggestive
of a presence, reflective in wrinkles and folds.

She dreams at night of stepping outside
and being caught up in God's breath, drifting starward.

Now Gwen is like clear cellophane, with nothing to hold.
She crackles and gives off light. Stretched thin, she vanishes.

She is not frightened. She knows she is disappearing completely.
Soon, the world will at last embrace her, like a friend, or a child.

Mary Ann Honaker holds a B.A. in philosophy from West Virginia University, a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Lesley. She has previously published poetry in 2 Bridges, Harvard’s The Dudley Review, Euphony, Off the Coast, Van Gogh's Ear, The Lake, and many other online and print publications. Her first chapbook, It Will Happen Like This, was released by YesNo Press in 2015. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.