Zoë Huettl

with descant: a secondary vocal melody

Maybe you wore out all of your spells, said the words a few too many times and rubbed away the charm,
Maybe you left the enchanted words buried inside a city of walls, for string to lead me through–
Where you lost me doesn’t matter (with the spool, to play like a cat).

The strange shape of dead time will still rise from the Lethe, white water dripping away to show the
Things you shoved down, spread your silly magic over–the ghosts that will never let you
Sleep again. Rinse the water off and remember:
the sticky leather of the backseat and the pale, dead
Tin of your eyes and the slap of the door, closing.
The slim, pretty girl you bent your ear to, that terrifying one
I knew you would crash into, spread your hands on her gilt
Legs with the gentleness
Of the tide, foam smoothing itself on the shore.

You would rather beat me, bend me over your knee for my im-per-tin-ence
Turn my skin bright red with the sting of your cold
Voice that said it wanted to punish me
And choke me with your hands, with your dick, with your hatred spilling
Over the backseat, on the side street where

Shame burrowed through the windows, bound to my legs with sweat and other salt
While I tried to become your girl again
Free and breathing (not drowning in water like cheap white wine, hands in claws, mouth in a scream.
Overflowing with forgetting) notebook-paper pure and intrepid, the vessel you’d spin stories on.
i wanted to be a good girl

Panic made my arms static, doweled
You moved me by my neck from pose to pose, your doll
Called a bitch, a thing that didn’t deserve something–
Your dick or your touch or the forgiveness I never got? But when you asked me,
I said yes.
i thought if i did everything right you would love me

You were my penance. I would have given more, I would have taken
The red lungs out of my chest to cool you, burned in a pyre before love’s leaving,
When did you burn for me, when did you push the fibers of your fingers
On with the last though of a fading mind? All you ever gave me were the print of bites
The tracks your teeth left on the rise of my belly.
i only knew how to be eaten alive

You made me a body
burned with your thoughtless touch, ticking down the seconds that would endlessly be
Burst open with the Lethe’s bloodless children, calling, weeks later
i can still feel the seat on my legs

I know now, with the Lethe rushing inside me, it told me what you read here,
In white-water whispers. When I betrayed myself the water remembered
i have never left that car

I can count on my knuckles every piece of me martyred for your favor, every blessed thing
Thrown into the lion’s den to be devoured. I found every piece where you dropped it, washed
Them in the rush of the river, took them
Down my throat with the scant bits
Of love I had left, when I could hold them

But when your hand fell
Before the water let loose your buried things
when i learned your love was brittle

I found myself
when you left me
On the mossy linoleum of the kitchen floor, the bite of panic firm and thick at my throat, the whirl of
The world around me and the gas I hadn’t turned on, waiting for a match.


Zoë studies English Literature, Poetry, and Secondary Education. She hopes to teach English to high school students, with an emphasis on personal and creative writing. She can often be found in alleys and parks with her dog, Harper.