Karah Kemmerly

once I had a body, but I buried it

tonight I resurrect myself : I have
been reduced to shade : papery :
rustling : a shadow, closemouthed :
but two hands still : reaching : once I
had a body but I let the earth swallow
it : now I cup the space where my
jaw used to be : try to mouth the
word strength : float out into the
garden and start digging : I am
prepared to make a trade : toss
safeguards into the holes I’ve made :
the shed skin from a garter snake :
spotted & translucent like my face :
then cloves : my aim is to remember : I
press an emerald into the dirt : savor
the shape of my name against the
space where my teeth would be :
imagine my voice in a velvet-lined
box : I am hungry : for so long I
have swallowed only breath & tried
to sustain myself : I offer up a
handful of sage : ask for the lining of
my stomach to be red & whole
again : my aim is to gather bones :
two knuckles for my pillowcase & an
ulna for under the stairs : things
formed inside my pastbody to fortify
& cradle a new one : I promise not to
use my bones to conjure something
deadly : tonight I will not cast myself

Karah Kemmerly lives in Corvallis, where she recently graduated from Oregon State University with an MFA in poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spectrum Literary Journal, The Tulane Review, Santa Ana River Review, and the Plath Poetry Project.