Dog teeth severed the flesh of my cheek—
a quick pet and before I could blink, Loretta
had sunk her canines into the meat of my face.
Afterwards you could see the inside of me,
the ugly pink of muscle and fat. No one
When my mother arrived an hour later,
drunk on vodka tonics, the salt of bar room
french fries in her hair, she looked me over
and proclaimed, I don’t think it needs
a stitch. I was 19, vain as a peacock
what if there’s a scar? My fingers probed
where my face hurt at the split.
My mother looked me dead in the eyes,
if I take you to the hospital, they’ll weigh
you, you know that, right?
and my feathers retreated
into the bones of my back as if in a reverse
magic trick, my body turned peachick,
featherless and still in the nest. When
my gallbladder failed at 23, I waited
until the pain was so intense I thought
I might die before I finally went to the ER,
stood on their metal scale, watched
as the numbers climbed.
Emily Lake Hansen (she/her) is the author of Home and Other Duty Stations (Kelsay Books) and the chapbook The Way the Body Had to Travel (dancing girl press). Her poetry has appeared in 32 Poems, Hobart, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Atticus Review, The Shore, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others. A recipient of the 2022 Longleaf Fellowship, Emily lives in Atlanta where she is a PhD student at Georgia State University and an instructor of English at Agnes Scott College.