the qualification to carry would appear
to be brute strength, as i’m praised
for the fissures in my clavicle like atlas
would be for bearing the combined weight
of everyone on his splintering
shoulders. years ago,
i was daphne, all leaden hatred and
divine feminine body enveloped
in red neon under imitation chapel ceilings.
i was the target of golden arrows, sustained
by matted candy red curls and perky breasts
and slender wrists and legs and
waist that would tether and then
try to bury me here.
each tin can i emptied and tossed
onto carpet that winter pushed the scale’s
red needle so far i heard your laugh
and then voice reminding me
i could only get so fat
before you stopped loving
me altogether. there is only
so much of this skin i can stretch
before i’ve grown too big
for tenderness. i am simply
ruin until i swell far enough out of this form
that my eyes creak back open, willing me
to drag myself from danger. until i cut
every sinuous string that
bound me to woman.
NAT RAUM (b. 1996) is a queer disabled artist and writer from baltimore, md. they hold a bfa in photography and book arts and are currently a first-year mfa candidate in creative writing & publishing arts. nat is also the editor-in-chief of fifth wheel press, a queer literature and art publishing space. past and upcoming publishers of their writing include Trampset, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Warning Lines Magazine, and Delicate Friend. nat is an avid fan of ambient music, the witcher 3: wild hunt, noise-cancelling headphones, and bisexual lighting, preferably all at once. natraum.com
NATASCHA GRAHAM is a lesbian writer of stage, screen, fiction, poetry and radio from the UK. Her novel Everland has been selected for the Penguin and Random House WriteNow 2021 Editorial Programme, and her short films have been selected by Pinewood Studios & Lift-Off Sessions, Cannes Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival, Camden Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, while her theatre shows have been performed in London’s West End and on Broadway, where she won the award for Best Monologue. Natascha is also working on The Art of Almost, a lesbian comedy-drama radio series as well as writing a television drama series and the sequel to Everland.