Ravens Live Inside Me

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Contributor: Rylee Langton

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Ravens live inside me.
They spin in my chest and create a great wind,
slicing as they go.
If I open my mouth I will blow you away.

If you looked down my throat you would say
“What beautiful onyx.”
Then their feathers would furrow and you would gasp.
Semi-precious stones are more acceptable, but these birds are precious.

They guard me and haunt me.
I have learned to sleep with the sound of tornadoes in my chest
and cawing on my breath.
They topple on top of each other and dance.

I like to think they hatched inside my lungs, but they have always been grown.
I swallowed them in a large gasp.
I tried to pull in the world but I got scared,
and they came and choked me out.

I am their moon; I am their sun,
their magnet, wheel, my fortune.
That makes me too important,
they know I need them.

I speak and build relationships and I feel them rise and puff.
I swallow to pacify them
They puff out my chest and rise in my throat.
Their beaks and claws grab at my bronchial tubes

They tell me it is best to be alone.
I cannot live from boy to boy
I cannot be held together by compliments and dinner dates
I must learn to be alone. But then I cry, boys come with a pacifier.

If you spoke directly to my chest and asked if you were worthy
They would laugh and tweak my nerves
I would push you to get them to stop
I’ll walk away from you for good.

They would be better off circling someone else's heart.
Someone strong and filled with gold and silver.
Not my small tomb of smoke and dead leaves.
I would be better off without the cawing wind.

I’ll swallow some swallows to coo in my mouth and
sing sweet songs to my lovers.
Or some chickadees,
to fill me with fluff and warmth and happy little peeps.

I’ll cut open my belly and make a home for the world's oldest snapping turtle.
He will hate me and I will hate him but we will be alone together
And we could pretend to be happy that way.
He will tell me I will never be one with the world and I will nod.

The Ravens will tell me of my life in their cry I mistake for my own.
They will tell me of how they heard my mother and as I was pulled out of her
and into this dark. They decided,
They heard my shrill scream and they dove into me.

They want me to grow so we can sore.
Sometimes I shrink and hold my breath and they curse me.
They tear into me with their inky wings and scream “STOP!”
I am so close to suffocating them.

They spin pushing through my clenched teeth, crying out for air.
I grab at my chest and sob and say “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
They pluck feathers from their sides and cover my wounds.
They are quiet, for now.

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Rylee graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Creative Writing. Now her eyes are set on grad school.


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