I haven’t stopped stealing chapsticks from Target. I haven’t
stopped questioning the afterlife. My mother
sings to me every year and I’m still
dying. I’m measuring distances
by the ache in my throat, the border
of my body, navel to pussy. Is this
my punishment for slipping the small cylinders
so easily into my pocket? I have faith
that all the pretty people
are prettier than me and all the pretty people
are geographically out of reach.
Even though I’ve left
a seat for Elijah, I don’t deserve
forgiveness for the hunger. Tell me, what is the shape
of your starved bloat? Is it shaped
like the bartender from Tuesday night or
the Brooklyn Bridge? Could mine
be shaped like the cabbage patch doll
that I fed a glass of water, the rate
at which the stuffed face grew. I want
to believe he didn’t damage me
like a dirty little whore, like leaving
a syndrome for a band aid. Sometimes
touching is the only food around. Sometimes
I set a table for the wounds.


Originally published in TRNSFR

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DIANNELY ANTIGUA is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection Ugly Music (YesYes Books, 2019) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize and a 2020 Whiting Award. She received her BA in English from the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she won the Jack Kerouac Creative Writing Scholarship; and received her MFA at NYU where she was awarded a Global Research Initiative Fellowship to Florence, Italy. She is the recipient of additional fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program. Her work has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poems can be found in Washington Square Review, Bennington Review, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. Her heart is in Brooklyn.

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