“Museum” by Erin O’Malley

Erin O’Malley (age 14)


You uncarved me, turned my body
inside out. Against your knife
skin ribboned. Peeling scraps of
flesh unwrapped my body, a museum.
I was irresistible. You said jutting
hips begged skin to unpeel. Hollows
pleaded to become one.
Believed bones were too alluring to go
unseen. I felt my heart strike, beat
at my chest. Beg for ribs
to crack, for veins and arteries to web.
Did you decide I was leaving
you? Think you could stuff memories of me
inside myself? Open me and find a prize? You said
I was someone who belonged
everywhere. Buried pieces of me
in each country. My lost bones are exiles
belonging only to the nation
of my body. My dried veins are a bouquet
on my grave. You had kept them like flower stems
in a vase. Whispered apologies,
how you couldn’t help
but hold my heart in your hands.
Pitiful, the man who thinks
the living are more beautiful dead.

from 2017 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Erin O’Malley: “I want the words to melt the iron in your blood.”

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