POETRY – 5 Poems by Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick


a man on my throat
on top of me
at twenty. I called
him my hand, my
doing, my release.
It is hard to admit
my husband next
to me, sometimes
I wish the monster
would come back
to my body, split it,
the ear drum or
bruise, for fun, so
I don’t have to.


The soft snore in almost-broke
Light means he’s breathing, means
He will wake to an older throat
And a son too young to understand
If he tried how a rough-gentle flap
Of skin and microscopic hair
Waving softly lets any sound pass.
I’ll make the eggs, he might say, or
I’m leaving you. In the morning
His body at work in a world
Moving with him in it. A ship
With an unknown departure site
Still touring the space I inhabit-
For now. Anyway. I am his wife.


At the time of confession I was lying
to myself the night we drank pulled
every stone from my pocket my throat
my eyes to approach the topic of making
love out of air someone else appeared
in the room said You’re joking I pressed
the issue further bruise on a peach before
it disintegrated we left the dying both guilty
you said Fuck someone else I don’t care
a mirror kept against you held a harvest
of girls crushing crushed blind.


I count time in segments
of when I was skinny, or not.

When I was fat, pregnant, or
before the affair. After,

I thought I was making love,
or not – I go back, afraid to

turn the lights on. I believe
while I ignore it and others

take it to the damp field
of their pain – the body says

to the other, I recognize
the dark in you. As minds

suffer, two bodies embrace,
wait. There’s always a before,

no always an after.


How in the village a broken
woman pointed her belly
to the mountain and one man
told her, Gather fish, and one
man told her, Sell your wheat,
eat only pebbles, weeds, drink
water under stone then carry it
to the father. She heard something
buckle under great weight, how
ten deer would be propped
on sticks, her belly as well
would swell with deer bones
then told, Drink this, a cup
presented – the returning child.

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her manuscript was a finalist for the Levis Prize in poetry and her chapbook was recently released by Thrush Press. She is an associate poetry editor for The Boiler Journal. Her work has appeared in the following: 3:AM Magazine, Night Train, Versal,Sugar House Review, Four Way Review, among others.

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