she kisses the blood from her finger and calls it sweet
like a honeysuckle—
summer has loved her well too,
and it will wear her body in its crown.
don’t you know this whole city is an altar?
look at how summer is festooned with ghosts,
each morgue a shining ring on her fingers.
she kisses your neck to brand you;
her cloying perfume won’t wash off your skin.
the first time she is thrown in the river,
it is because she reeks.
a girl who lives in the river bed
should at least bathe in it.
the second time,
it is because she is speaking in tongues—
she pulls the sounds out of her body:
every thrash of her head a shriek,
dragging her leg into a moan.
a girl who lives under a bridge
should jump off it too.
in swollen spring she preached to you
and then her tongues did not seem so wrong, so
when she shivered in the heat
and the river boiled away, you knew
her tongue could not untie itself.
next they will come for her with fire,
but you don’t know how to burn someone
who is a collection of fevers.
Kelsey Schmitt was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and is currently a second year at the University of Chicago. She has been writing as long as she can remember and isn’t sure she can stop. Her work has been recognized by Scholastic Art & Writing and published in The Misty Review, Empath Quarterly, and the Claremont Review.