A Heroine’s Primer

A Heroine’s Primer for Coming
Back from the Dead

No one warns you
about the work of resurrection.
The way death clings
to the skin, a cold sweat.
It’s the after that guts you. Not the wound,
but the absence of it. The way your body
doesn’t fit: all pulse and push and sinew
where there should be only stillness.

You learn to breathe again
the way you learn most things:
slowly and with effort. Learn to pluck
the briars from your ribs. Unknit each thistle,
each penitent stitch. Falling asleep,
the pillow clenched between your thighs becomes
            a skull                          a snake                        a burning brand
Sweet ache of aftermath. Hands gloved in blood.

Did you think you’d return
to applause? No one truly wants
the hero home. A scar in the shape of a daughter
marring the hearth. The horror
of the haunted house isn’t the monster.
It’s what survives it. O, Final Girl.

O, Prophecy’s Bitch. You’ve outlived everything.
When you face the worst
this world has to offer and come up swinging,
grave dirt beneath your broken nails, what then?
It’s so much brighter here
than where you went in between, that sweet stretch
of dark a balm you can’t help but crave.

You should know by now
there’s no jilting the apocalypse. No cure
for living but the kind that’s failed
to take. When death comes again,
he’ll find you tougher fare, the meat
of a girl ago gone gristle, daring him
            to bite.

The Gothic Heroine Contemplates Murder

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