How I loved your swan hiss and screech, your electric
hair. I loved the ragged strips of cloth that bound
your fragile arms, as if you could not trust your own
brittle skin. I loved the stitches on your throat, the snap
of your head, your bloodlessness. The way you rose,
a drawbridge across a moat, the straight steel bars of you,
the sheet-draped plank of your body—none shall pass, none
shall enter here. To breathe again, after your time
underground. To wake to lightning and the triumphant
cries of men. Everything sharp corners and polished
metal. Everything harder than you. Pallid, alone, you could
not close your eyes—How could you be expected
to believe any creature who called you friend? Still, he was
the only one who knew how fully you belonged to the dead.
Who let you down the first time? Who lowered you,
lowered his body to the fresh-turned earth above you?
What kind of man would let you go so easily? And oh, God,
what if the world refuses to disappear again beneath you?
Dear Dr. Griffin
I wanted to be left alone, like you,
spent my days examining the things
that other people turn away from. I
turned them over, taking them into my
mouth. I believed in science, or in
magic potions. I ignored warnings
about insanity. I have been betrayed, heard
the sirens approaching. I have been
visible only by my footsteps appearing
in fresh snow, by a floating cigarette holder,
by the furniture sinking below my weight.
I have wrapped my skin in bandages,
desperate to be seen, stood naked
in the corner of the room, listening,
felt the cold in a strange town, the ice
on the soles of my feet. I have run
and felt the bullets. I have fallen and
closed my eyes just as my skin appeared.
Dear Larry Talbot
I used to know a man like you: the scarce
veneer of skin across the beast, the claw curled
in a hand. I used to wait for him to snarl
or snap, to say I drove him to it like your
autumn moon. I recognize your startled heat,
your palm against the scrabbled bark of a tree,
the furring edge of a french cuff, the unraveling,
the woman backed against the trunk, the duff
at her feet. I used to know the woman too:
the way she likes to pretend she doesn’t hear
the howling, the way she lifts her hand,
tugging her collar closed against her throat,
the blood bruising her temple from within,
the beating pulse of her. The call. Dear man,
she knows you’re hardly man at all, despite
your polish and your shoes. Despite the hollows
at her clavicle and the way her marrow
holds her scent, begs you to unmake her.
Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, and Nonbinary Review. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.
“Dear Bride” was first published in Emrys Journal, “Dear Dr. Griffin” in Forge, and “Dear Larry Talbot” in Sugared Water