Herodias, by Isabella DeSendi
In your orgasmic stupor, you sleep
with a man’s severed head in your lap
and in the man’s head, a dry tongue
dead as a slug in late September.
In nature, brutality is law and there is nothing
more beautiful than the body of another
being whipped or chained or scoured because it means
that we’ve survived.
What else is ecstasy but the light
Cairo has chosen to paint you in.
Even the natural shadows that rest against
your eyes, soft and grey as unfurled sails
are at peace with the small wreckage
like a gift in your hands.
I know it’s something stronger than sleep
which takes you now--
you’re tired of enduring.
Walking down Broadway at night, I imagine
mutilating every tongue that harasses the body
I perceive as mine.
Herodias, teach me not to feel
regret, to like the sound a neck makes
when it breaks, the blade cleaving
clean through bone. I’d give anything to know
the pleasure you feel when pain makes pain
regret what it’s done. Show me. Put a knife
in my mouth. Leave a hole in my body
big enough for you to touch.
Isabella DeSendi is a Cuban-Italian poet from Florida residing in New York City, where she's in the midst of completing her MFA in Columbia University's Writing Program. This past year, she was selected as a finalist for the 2017 June Jordan Fellowship, Narrative’s Ninth Annual Poetry Prize, and awarded a teaching-artist residency through New York City's Community Word Project. Her poems have been published in Two Peach, The Grief Diaries, and are forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage.
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