April Michelle Bratten


I am the country she can jerk on. I allow her to labor me. Resolve
gives birth to rice-snow and dead bees. Where is my thickness?

Where is my body? I am a body but not somebody. I cannot stop
thinking on her. I watch her now, colder than before. Her brain

is the place where I gather and mend inside strings of ice-lump. I am
her promises I promise but never promise through. I am anything

she has ever held too tightly. Her soft boots. Her raw mouth
and cherries. Her body is trouble. Is my beating muscle of dirt. I think

on it. I collapse open and through her. I want to kiss that jelly
of potential. Stunned, she opens her eyes, says she cannot be filled. My ears

break off and bury in my drifts. My fingernails freeze on my own air–
halfway toward her thigh. If this was summer, I could really show her

something. Gold lights to quiver her
night. Warm excuses. A body.


Mother is right:

We learn by her breasts’ weight, tumble our small heads
in the buzz of her chest, pull and tug at her soft.
Don’t be fooled, she says. These are not set in stone.
We listen. Grow our own intimate skin, find ways to flush
the flat corpse, leave a hard body behind.

You must,
she warned, must
wear bras to bed,
or your flesh
will flex
and stretch
into the worst
kind of sin.

Then she takes her giant breasts, folds them
like a sheet, beckons us into the layers.
We listen, our bodies rising to a hum, inflating,
developing into ampler versions of ourselves.


April Michelle Bratten
lives in North Dakota. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Zone 3, Southeast Review, Gargoyle, Thrush Poetry Journal, and others. Her latest chapbook, Anne with an E, and is being published by dancing girl press in late 2015. She is the editor of Up the Staircase Quarterly. You can find out more at