Madison Bertenshaw
Content Warnings
Sexual content
"What do you write about?"
Dec 28, 2020 9:51 PM

What do you write about?

I dug my hole before I met you.

Your mother’s silver bracelets snap the silence.

She rages with affection surrounded by dogs.

I am her Burque street bitch, tarnished –

my smile whispers the start of a poem. If I could cry –

Your father’s workbench is turquoise, silver,

dirt, tape cassettes, women pinned to the walls.

When you were a boy, he showed you how to put a condom on a broom

as the naked photographs watched.

Here, my eyes are hungry for these women,

cheeks, breasts, ribs, stomach, a carrot

dangling between one girl’s thighs and

You, my love, unearth my small hand, hidden

in my thighs.

You tug at my gnarled leash.

You lead my small hand to your mother,

your father watches the gentle gift of my body.

The dogs shred the grass as they pass through the open doorway,

marking freedom.

Things I write poems about – rhythms and body ticks and sex

and family, how I rev like an engine.

As if I could be your pet, my love –

the memory wire will not release tension

You and your family watch my hand twist around a purple stone.

I crave its noisy birth and the hushed

fondling, pretending to be made of secrets

even as I am being excavated.

In the yard, my bitch craves the familiarity of violence

and she bites, blackening the air.

To have a big yard contained without a fence.

Madison Bertenshaw is a poet and writer living in Austin, Texas. She received her MFA from the Poets and Writers Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her work has appeared in Route 9 and Persona, and she is currently researching and writing about congenital limb differences and mental health.