by Emily Schultz
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
— “Edge,” Sylvia Plath
I am older now than Sylvia Plath was
when she stopped up the doorframe with wet rags
and twisted bits of things in cracks to keep the gas
from slipping through her children, who were asleep
—soft as only infants can be—in the next room
when she put her head inside the oven.
Sadness is a sudden force, muddying the skull.
Who knows what makes a human do what it does?
There are things that all the poems in the world
cannot name. Rise in the middle of the night and creep
into the shower stall where the world falls
all around, these tears like teeth that must open.
There is a tiger inside; it wears the skin of a human
as a disguise. It is my skin but I know the tiger wants
to eat it, eat me in lieu of other prey, gnaw its disguises,
and it will, as the rain coughs in the man-made dark,
pools and gutters ’round ankles, knees, haunches,
while I sink paw-deep to the slick domestic tile.
You wake to absence, crouch beside this hiding place.
You do not know there is a tiger in our shower.
Shush, you say, smoothing a hand down the naked skin
of me. Cradle my head, which is not my head,
but a place furred with rage and rain.
Shhh, shhh, you would say to a tiger.
About Emily Schultz
Emily Schultz’s first poetry collection was Songs for the Dancing Chicken, and her poetry is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner. Her novel, The Blondes, releases from St. Martin’s Press in 2015. The co-publisher of Joyland Magazine, she is also known for her blog, Spending the Stephen King Money. You can find her in Brooklyn or online at emilyschultz.com.