Fat Trimmings on the Edge of the Moon

By Kayleigh Birch

I. Restart, Woman 

I slept through May and woke up swollen and full of sun 
The flowers in the forest must have bloomed while I was asleep  
they have since grown into pink and purple orbs 
I was blue and red with hunger when I opened my eyes so I crawled up the fringes of the wind 
to gnaw on the fat trimmings on the edge of the moon 
I nibbled her down to a crescent  
small enough to notice from your windowpane 
and big enough to feed the starvation  
It felt so good to be a woman again 

Upon the return  
I slinked through my threads 
and tucked in my shirttail and fluffed up my bed 
before locking the door to the forest (once, maybe twice) 
and telling the voices to turn off the lights 
there is so much of the world that I must say hello to  
I walked to the market to buy some new stars  
the old ones melted like sandcastles when I pressed them into our ceiling 
and I bought stalks of Saturn’s rings shaped in a wreath  
I’ll be damned to turn this home back into a feeling  
so I’ll kick my shoes off at the door 
so all the stardust sifts when I arrive 
It’s time to pull the mess back together 

II. Oracle 

When I woke 
I thought back to when I was gone 
when only the ground knew how I tasted 
I’d been asleep for years 
And the tide knew that  
it stripped me naked when the moon turned the world over  
and reminded me what I was made of  

But in that slumber  
I was busy lining up visions with dreams  
in chases of aces of trails up your sleeves 
in pride stitched together through fissures in pen strokes 
He kept me in the forest and I kept it all inside  
so we could keep something in common  
and after I wandered through every last brook  
and outran the darkness as best I could 
I cried every color of the rainbow until the oracle found me 

When we met 
I told her I was tired of hiding but I knew that the world was watching  
and she knew very well that if I cared what people thought of me 
I would have been dead long ago  

So I told her about the dream  
where in the light  
our bodies aged like paintings  
and she told me that oil melts in the water no matter how grand the engraving  
of my shiniest medal or deepest battle scar 
skin is skin and skin is pulled apart 

And she knew I was ready to leave it all behind 
slinking like a fox for answers in the dark 
and I finally did too  

III. Prophecy  

In that dream  
I started running when you told her you loved the mountains 
the newest woman 
was smart enough to ask why you climbed down the highest one  
and why 
at the bottom 
all you had left was bad poetry and a god complex and a silhouette shaped like me to fill with her 
And I wanted her lips because I knew that your skin hadn’t been pulled off her yet  
your body hadn’t been ripped and cleaned of her yet  
she hadn’t started running yet 
but our mouths and tongues were still the same  
and nothing else had belonged to me before  
your honey at the bottom of the tea 
your phantom sculpted in a sundress 

But she was new and right in ways I hadn’t been yet 
she was  
a nose job on Aphrodite 
a Calliope algorithm I couldn’t have dreamed up  
the girl crush on God built just to smite me 
She had never seen the nightmares you had  
where I cut off every part of me that was round  
and turned the flesh into her soft edges  
And I wanted nothing more than to see her hands in my sky 
she was new and gentle and as rare as stepping in the same water twice 
and she looked better in your clothes than I did anyways  
I was better as a ghost than she was as a dream  

IV. Hysteria 

When I learned of her dimples and read the news  
in a pile of soon-to-be laundry on your bedroom floor  
I had lines on my faces that the sun couldn’t smooth 
ironed in from pursing my lips to blow out candles and proportions 
and breathing in the smoke of their aftermaths  

So when my frame was burned to ashes and charred twice over  
and your name was fresh in the stanza  
know that I was too young to sift tea leaves for gold dust  
My wrists were tied with the end of my rope and my body was full of spaces 
that I wanted to fill with your name  
in a perfect couplet of my lucky number 

But I turned to stone before I could warn anyone else to stay away  
so you’ll be left in the space between the things I thought and the things I thought to say  

All to hell  
we’ll water it down and drink it straight  
sitting down below the flames  
the mangled child in me who is afraid of kissing will snip up all the reins 
I took one last look and did the bravest thing 
I ran and ran and ran until my legs lifted  
And I trampled and stumbled and tried to turn the curse in 
The chains flipped inside-out and split behind my ribcage 
I’ll rip my hair out and try again 
I’ll shed this layer and try again 
all I’ve ever known of this is how to try again 

V. Clean  

When I woke from that slumber 
the light hit my eyes 
and it shocked me like an inverse memory of what the birds were singing all that time ago 

It was fresh 
it was new 
when the flowers bloomed upon my wake 
in tiny freckled globes that remind me that somehow 
I have lived this all before 
And every sun spot on my hand is a faint reminder  
that I know this world too well to just be passing through 
May is still young  
and I have done this all before  

And if I can’t be your silver lining 
let me be a golden something  
telling stories  
of sunrises and 
other things that are full and 
stories of how I tied together everything sacred in ribbons  
stitched together from the bow I undid from your wrist and mine 

Let me tell the stories of how I washed myself in every river  
so I can live in everything  

Let me tell the story 
once more  
of how I learned that if the universe can feed on me  
I will never starve again  

Kayleigh Birch, from Los Angeles, is in her final semester of her degree, graduating from the University of Toronto with a double major in English and Cinema Studies. This fall, she will begin her Screenwriting MFA at UCLA (’22). She has been writing poetry, scripts, fiction (novels and prose), and songs her whole life: her other published works can be found in The Los Angeles Times, The Strand Magazine, and The Louisville Review. Her debut poetry novel, Love Letters Only, can be purchased on Amazon, and her portfolio can be viewed at

Illustration used: Spirit of the Pond by Hélène Béland

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