Bury me under feathers.
My mother wanted me to be an actress, a singer.
I paint in wings, in white, black, in plume.
You waterproof, you go thermal.
All the directions read backwards, the compass is upside down.
Don’t you get it. Look again, again. It is right here.
It is time to go home.
My father, the kitchen table, the inevitable equations.
Let me become seed, reduce me to potential, to root and blossom.
I shrink, back rounded, stomach caved.
What can’t be smothered in color.
The pencil, angry, the darker lines, the darker lines, numbers fast and hard.
Already I have everything bolted down.
How can you not know.
You draw a map behind your eyes, squeeze until the veins turn into roads.
Because, they say. We have to control you.
Three pews of the same shadow across the same faces, each of the same curve.
Like this, no, like this. Like this, no, like this. No. This. Here. Like this.
I hope you have a nice life. I mean that, I really do.
It is time to leave now.
What can burn? Who smells the smoke? Alarm, alarm.
I form myself into a doll.
What, then, if you fall asleep?
My hot feet against the cool wall.
A wish to be made of salt.
Callista Buchen is the author of the chapbooks The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press) and Double-Mouthed (dancing girl press). Her work appears in Harpur Palate, Puerto del Sol, Fourteen Hills, and many other journals, and she is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award and DIAGRAM‘s essay contest. She is an assistant professor at Franklin College in Indiana.