We have disappointed one another
in countless ways; let me count the ways:
I spread my dreams at your feet
and you trampled them with silence,
derision, and scorn.
We have stuck it out for so long,
the decades grinding and heaving
and me in love of it ending.
I choke on your poison daily—
it is my drug of choice.
If I could, I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment only
as a moment is all I would need
to strangle you from inside,
compressing air into nothingness.
At night, we do not reach for
one another in a loving embrace,
and I waft toward sleep,
I escape you. Like the caged bird
sings of freedom, I dream.
But not of flight. In my warm,
beating, frantic, winged imagination,
I head downwards—I bequeath myself
to the dirt to grow into a monstrous
plant-thing that chews you and spits
you out, again and again, until you beg
for the maggot, Little Master of earth,
to be done with your body,
as I have been done with you
for so many years I cannot count.

Sonnet 43: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Aedth Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven: William Butler Yeats
Radial: Brandon Kreitler
Variations On the Word Sleep: Margaret Atwood
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou
Little Red Cap: Carol Ann Duffy
Leaves of Grass: Walt Whitman
Ode to the Maggot: Yusef Komunyakaa

Cover art: “Balance” by Delta N.A.

Mary Christine Delea

Mary Christine Delea is the author of 1 full-length poetry book and 3 chapbooks. Her website, http://www.mchristinedelea.com, includes a blog where she posts a writing prompt every Sunday, and poems by others on Sundays and Wednesdays. Originally from Long Island, she now lives in Oregon.