My lover is a taxidermist:
proficient in the art
of keeping alive something
that has long since died.

I am kept like a pet,
on display to show the neighbors
what a dead girl saved
looks like in real life.

My skin is tight and tanned
to trap me in perpetual youth.
He replaced my heart
with cotton and sutures
so that it never has the chance to change.

He fixes glass eyes in my hollow skull
so that I do not go to sleep but how
can I be awake when the tide of my blood
no longer rushes in my ears and my ribs

only reverberate with the echo
of a used to be voice.
Mounted on the living room wall,
I hold my breath,

waiting for a life
that has withered and flaked
and joined the dust moats
suspended in canned lights.

I think he thinks he saved me
because at least I’m still here.
The alcohol masks the smell of death
so guests won’t know

I’m just stuffed
with insomnia and sawdust.

Hayley Bowen

Hayley Bowen (she/her) is a poet interested in using language to immortalize the landscapes of everyday life. Although she has spent portions of her life in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California, the Rocky Mountain foothills of Colorado, and the Black Hills of South Dakota, she has decided that “home” is wherever she happens to be at the moment. She currently resides in an attic in Upstate New York. Hayley is an avid craft beer enthusiast, an amateur painter, and a terrible knitter. She is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing poetry at Syracuse University.