When I was born, it was a river,
so built a dam. Rocks and sticks,
stacked and mud-mortared
until the stream did not move.
This is how a living thing becomes
dead and beautiful: by the hands
of someone neither beautiful nor dead.
The brook quieted gracefully.
Died without protest.
I would have died like a spectacle.
A bloated fish found floating
in a reservoir of it own creation
, skull cracked
having bashed madly for years against the wall
of a reservoir it made itself, made just to see
how a bubbling thing perishes.
It was no holy river baptism.
I woke in a pool of vomit and broken glass.
God knows I tried to die softly and failed.
Yes, there is a war to be fought
here, in the cradle of all this killing.
This, though. This is to be a clean battle.
No more bodies. Not even mine.
Today I am born. I learn that if I
crack my skull against a wall I built myself,
it will become somebody’s job
to find me and burn me.
Ellyn Touchette is a biology student from Portland, Maine. Her work has appeared in The Emerson Review, Blackheart Magazine, & Drunk in a Midnight Choir, among others. She was once described by George R. R. Martin as a “scheming bitch” on page 714 of A Feast for Crows.