Each morning before the rooster crowed,
Ramona rose to see him.
He was a russet stallion, colored like tribal boots,
a phantom stripe down his snout.
Ramona knew the names of everything.
The pastern and the coronet, the cannon beneath his knee.
I used to eat orange slices in the stable and watch her
scrape green slime from his hooves. Our neighbors called him Champion.
She wasted her life on the great hill beyond our window,
the black shape of her body on his.
When that great beast went down on Christmas,
Ramona worked for hours on warm hay,
coaxing sugar onto his tongue, wiping the snot from his nostrils.
And I stood with my hands tucked away, snow leaking through
the hole in my left mitten.
I wished that the horse would die,
that Ramona would come into bed and stay
at least for the holiday.
I sucked oranges until my tongue was hot, my fingers numb,
while Champion lay heaving,
one misted eye turned toward mine.
Pretty girl looks into herself
and sees the glass crystal,
all violent angles and hard lines.
A little voice whispers
— it whispers every day —
protect the crystal, pretty girl,
always protect your crystal
and polish all those straight-edged corners.
Pretty girl cuts into herself
and heats up the glass crystal with her palm
until it's warm as jelly,
wet as afterbirth.
A thing with tentacles lives inside the crystal.
It climbs through shattered prism after prism
like a beast out of hell.
Pretty girl feels those hot suction cups
touch her insides for the first time.
They suck something into her,
out of her.
A little voice dies.
Better than angles,
sweeter than beauty.
I used to dream about lips on a shadowed thigh,
magnolia leaves on breasts.
I woke each night with burning taste buds;
my chest lingered concave, blood ran for no one
and the memory was all syrup,
melted flower petals.
That empty bedroom was torture —
I would have gone with anybody.
About Madeleine Gallo
Madeleine Gallo is currently a first year MA student at Wake Forest University. Her work has appeared in Susquehanna Review: Apprentice Writer, Fermata, Sun and Sandstone, Belle Reve Literary Journal, The Pylon, Sigma Tau Delta Review, Into the Void, Litro, and Rattle. After graduation, she plans to pursue an MFA or a PhD in Contemporary American Poetry.