Ashley Inguanta

Ashley Inguanta


by Kirsten M. Holt

When I was born I was all fawn—

cloven toes, antlered and bent back

throat to the stars—but my tongue

marked me mollusk; my speech full

of brine. I didn’t know whether I was bird

or scaled, would feel around my torso

yoga-bellied in cobra pose. But when a boy

first touched my breasts I became owl-feathered

and my mother could no longer drag a brush

through my feral hair. Wild child,

my hands lost themselves in math equations but curled

around the chalice like a scorpion’s

segmented tail. I would fold my orchid legs at the ankle,

swing my  hips like a bell (like my mother’s

maiden name). All my lovers I named like catkins

and my flesh grew tangerine. I came like the bellowing

of bulls, unstrung as snake’s jaws—I thought myself Maenad,

terrible and beautiful, until you tore through me

with wolf teeth, told me I was wooden and damp, hyena-skinned

and libertine. I want you to open me

like the rind of citrus, crack my wicker breastplate

and pluck the walnut heart, my cavities

smooth as almonds. Dissect me, let me know

when you hold my egg in your palm

am I reptile or avian?

kiki13About Kirsten M. Holt

Kirsten Holt is a second-year graduate student of poetry at the University of Central Florida. Her chapbook “Overwintered” was the winner of the 2010 Annual Chapbook Contest and is available from Yellowjacket Press. She has served as managing editor for The Florida Review, and reads for Sweet: A Literary Confection. Kirsten enjoys full glasses of wine, knitting, and the Oxford Comma. Recent work can be found in the Louisville Review.