Lizzie Harris: Domestics

An excerpt from Domestics

Children were born and raised here
-Eavan Boland

I was dreaded
like a deadline: a thin string
tying her to death.

Her body made a scratching post,
a melon cut through
at the button, inside
a collection to seed.

How much smoother
would she be had I not formed
like a wrecking ball floating
in her womb?

I’m sorry I didn’t know I was not yet alive.


She tells me there were flowers
but I know there were not flowers.

Says, you would chop the onion;
you would grate the cheese.

At night, I smell only the metal
of the buckle, the metal of blood.

At a glance it grows—poppies
sprouting from the tiles,

the bruises are bulbs
planted just beneath the skin.


A dish broke in the kitchen:
my stepmother’s crying and running
for the home’s smallest corners.
Linen closet, cactus garden.

At once, she is no longer a jewel,
a teenage girl who grew
his child in the stomach.
Now she is a bird’s nest wrapped
in clothes, hiding at your feet—

hide hide—wait for the sound
of fists against the body.


A year ago
I’d have thought myself
a crocus: impatient
and brave. Now I am a stuffed
doll, an old mop
sitting in tin.

Don’t try too hard
to remember the ugly

The teeth are collecting in my hands.

Don’t say anything. You can’t
say anything

The mouth empties, the taste is marrow.

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