The Truth Is


I wasn't fed live mice as a child, but as I tell you that, I can say I have a family of rodents inside me, and late into the night I can feel the snouts of the babies pressing against my muscles and the claws of the mother, who is tender but powerful, scratching the skin of my veins. I could say right now the father is scrunched in some dark corner of myself, doubting his life and this world. I could say it’s not always easy, this arrangement, that every stillborn mouse-child, each casualty of my inhospitable body, must come up through my throat and be pulled from my teeth. I'm the one who must wrap them in tissue and flush them away to some larger, distant belly. It's not always easy, but at least I'm never alone — their warm, downy nests fill small spaces, their breath moves. No, I wasn’t fed live mice as a child, but if I tell you that, I can say I love and fear everything, which couldn't be more true.

Annalynn Hammond's first book, Dirty Birth, won Sundress Publications' First Annual Book Contest. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Can we have our ball back?, Diagram, Spork, Shampoo, Failbetter and elsewhere.