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by Jessica Khailo



They pulled our molars
so we could prove our loyalty
through a gap that’s not a gap
until we’re told:
To bite, but not to chew,
to take our cues from molerats,
and find a root that’s tender.

A woman, part hippo, spread her jaws,
revealing fifty sets of ivory grinders.
We tongue the dry sockets,
our simian gaps,
and wish we were big enough
to scream that way,
to have our own bodies.

We wish we were frightening
as Tawaret,
with jaws that bare down
to save our crying children.
Our immovable bodies
absorbing the lead
incased in steel jackets.

We wish that our rage
would flood rivers.
Our charging ferocity
drowning out the pointless noise
of thoughts and prayers
gasped into vaulted ceilings.
This is not a reality ceded to deity,
but one of tumbling limestone:
and burning.

(*This poem was first published in The Jupiter Review, issue iv, 2022)

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