Leslie Marie Aguilar


Envision a wooden cutting board
with slices of cactus strewn about

in every cardinal direction. Still,
this landscape of predator & prey.

Here, a broom is not a compass
or a scale for weighing offenses,

but a brass bowl tipping in favor.
In this history of condemnation,

rituals of abuse are ancestral like
stripping blistered skin & praying.

In this history of affliction,
abuse means carrying a vase

full of belladonna & boneset
towards a harvest table, only

to trip in the final moments
& make a field of tempered glass

along the ground, a map of flesh.
This is a tradition of hollowness

too full to be carried, too bent
to be broken. Here, sacrifice

means rotting between fence posts
& waiting for an owl to pluck eyes

clean from a sugared skull.
This is a bitter omen waiting

for savory bits to fall away, as in,
the muscle around the heart is too

tough to be chewed raw. It must be
salted & bathed in holy water before

the meat is tender enough to eat.
This is the origin of domesticity—

an abuse inherited from scavengers
& passed down as a recipe for love.

Leslie Marie Aguilar was born and raised in Abilene, Texas. She has served as the Poetry Editor of Harbinger Journal of Literature and Art and is the current Poetry Editor of Indiana Review. She is also the recipient of a National Society of Arts and Letters Literature Award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bellingham Review, Hotel Amerika, Iron Horse Literary Journal, Ninth Letter, Rattle, Spillway, and The Más Tequila Review among others. She is currently an MFA candidate at Indiana University.

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