Kanika Lawton

In Hushed Voices, the Women in My Family Speak About a Woman Who Left Her Husband for Another Woman

Tears beneath their eyes stuck like plastic 
jewels, petaled against the thought of her rot; 
the way her hand sweeps away the dirt behind 
her lover’s ear, grime of their hunger.
Tender brutality, I want so much more than 
peeling skin. I broke my jaw off at the 
hinge, turned myself mirror, loved a girl who 
looked so much like myself I tasted her lips 
every time I painted my mouth into the most
delicate and vicious flower. Fifteen and gathering 
the carcass of my girlhood into trembling arms, 
buried deep in the woods across from school, 
near the lake, the ducks eating from my palms the 
only time I am good enough for something else. 
This is too much mouth. Confession wrenches 
shoulders from their sockets. 
Patience sinew-thin, the women in my family tell 
me (yet) another husband has been scrapped off, 
exposed to the sun, added rung to the drying 
rack. Inside out, they imagine him growing small,

sinking back into the dirt, her hands pushing until
she becomes more earth than flesh. I wonder if 
they will dig him out. I wonder if they will bury 
me in his place; the wet beckoning of return.
Yesterday I picked at violets so violently blooming 
I crushed their heads between my fingers.
I am still so afraid of where my hands will take me.

Kanika Lawton is a Toronto-based writer and editor. She is an MA student at the University of Toronto's Cinema Studies Institute, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of L'Éphémère Review, Social Media Manager of Rambutan Literary, and a 2018 Pink Door Fellow. Her work has appeared in Ricepaper Magazine, Vagabond City Literary Journal, and Longleaf Review, and profiled in The Ellis Review and Horn & Ivory Zine. She is the author of Wildfire Heart (The Poetry Annals, 2018), Loneliness, and Other Ways to Split a Body (Ghost City Press, 2018), and Monster (Girl) Theory (post ghost press, 2019).