Missing Persons Report II

Once we were all teenagers, even the teenagers.

This is a time when it’s safe to not be safe, the birthday trees tell us.

Fuck the birthday trees — the man enters my body, unwanted.

Fuck all the birthday trees to hell.

With the excellent marksmanship of the young, whatever I aim at, I hit myself.

I walk towards vodka. Vodka is a province / promise / premise.

Vodka is the beginning of the story the birthday trees tell, their lips stupid, slow-moving.

It is the girl who jumps out that window & says in her quietest indoor voice this man cares about me. (me)

I prefer the rubble. I rub it into my bones.

The rubble is sharp, like a bump of crystal. This is what ruin does for me: it cleans me.

It washes my whole body in distance.

It lets me be fifteen on a single July night as many years as I don’t want to.

Rapunzel, Three Months after Her Escape

Rapunzel’s shoulders are too small for this.

Some would say she asked for it,
walking around full of arbitrary light.

Night breathes
into a paper bag.   She employs
the distancing narrative, her body
so good at pretending to be a body.

Rapunzel traces her bloody footsteps
back to the ghost-hole & one step
further. It never happened she promises
up her spine like little cat-teeth.

She pinks. It never happened she promises

while it is in fact happening while
there are these hands on her flesh,
there are arms in this poem,
she is pressed to the dirt.

Animals smell sorrow in the wind,
Rapunzel, dissolve this under your tongue

once you start emigrating you cannot stop.

In Which Rapunzel Pursues a Talkless Therapy

The whiskey bottle holds her to the light
& examines the small, displaced stars
withered spit-dull in her eyes, oh yes
you will do.

An easy way to make anything real is to deny
its existence. Rapunzel is ready to fill her head.

Rapunzel is a gemini.

Go ahead says the wind Pick your damn door.
The air has given up demanding first person.

Rapunzel is not a gemini.

What if any given statement was true
in that it only partially lied? She sleeps
next to her body, long-fingered &
headlessly hungry. At the center is always a circle
the circle the other circles encircle the
small hapless pulp of obsession.

Listen: her hands keep tapping
like she believes in secrets.

Listen: she has not mentioned the witch.

Ruth Baumann is an MFA student at the University of Memphis, & Poetry Editor of The Pinch. If you want, you can find her publications at https://ruthbaumann.wordpress.com/