Letters to the Body I Lived In by Danie Shokoohi


Later, you’ll say it was like rosemary.
Like clean. Like lavender

in the bathtub.
Like angelica burning on the thurible,
and no ghosts in the undersink cupboard.

As if anyone has a pleasant exorcism.


Later, you’ll say the sky was milky,
white as cataracts.

You’ll wonder
why the sky is always dairy, always
milk in the day and the butter-dark night.
You’ll tell no one, how

you wanted to drink it.
To nibble the mountains like cookies
even before I took you.
Don’t worry. Only you and I have to know.


Between us, we keep an altar of secrets:
how you called me hoarse, again
and again, with the planchet
––sometimes, my skin still rings,

bell-struck, with your whisper––
And circle after circle
as if you could keep me there
with nothing but a little salt.

Tell them I made you hungry.
Tell them you were a good person
before you summoned me.

Don’t tell them that you summoned me at all.


And we had a time of it, didn’t we?

We laid sawdust on the empty floor
of the empty house. This
too is a kind of filling,
a way to break bread,
breaking hunger,
breaking the ice off
a love that refuses to thaw warm.

When they say I hurt you,
tell them, “My skin slices too easy, yes
I bruise like an apple, yes”
and don’t think longer than an instant
of how I made your body sing.


Later, you’ll tell them it was like rosemary.
Like clean.

Like an exorcism is an easy thing.

Like they didn’t tie you to a bed
to hollow you out.


When your skin starts to itch, you close
the windows. You tend the salt lines
like a garden.

I’m watching from the oak tree by your window.

(I am watching from the owl
nesting in the oak tree
by your window.)

You didn’t tell them it felt like rapture.

My wings, singed, but soft still,
and the harp so much sweeter in the minor key.


I know why you keep the salt lines.
You aren’t trying to keep me out.

You are trying to keep yourself in.

Danie Shokoohi is a Boston-based writer with a BA in political science from the University of Iowa. Her fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have been previously published in Plain China Press, Moonchild Magazine, Vassar Review, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She currently works as a prose reader for The Blueshift Journal and as the writing editor of Half Mystic Press, where she publishes monthly articles on how music intersects with things such as lake mermaids, Iranian activism, and curmudgeonly spaniels.

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