He doesn’t touch her at night

as though to do so would break
the chrysalis that houses her heart,
encloses it in bright sea glass layers.

He doesn’t sense her gathering
of pain, trapping it in her body
like a butterfly in a jar, lest
it would actually reach her heart,
the red rawness underneath
fragile enough that the barest
of caress would tear it open.

She was afraid of what would spill
out, dark things that slither, writhe,
the reason for hiding her heart
from him in the first place.


Contributor’s Notes: Brandi L. Perry is a third-year M.F.A. student in Creative Writing at the University of South Carolina. She is a James Dickey Fellow and an inaugral SPARC Fellowship Awardee. Presently, she is working on her first collection of poetry, which focues on retelling and reclaiming myths and fairy tales.