On Being An Angel—Jessie Lynn McMains

content warning: suicide mention

(for Francesca Woodman)

o morbid angel your death-show opened
the year i was born
your suicide
predicted mine
who hasn’t felt the desire to die

o fascination when i was young
it was easier
to imagine dying than growing up 

o cunning ghost you’re a piano wire
snapped and curling
from the piano’s wooden warp, its corpse
hidden in the home behind the pines
o lovely dead body disappearing
into the woodwork of the house of childhood
and the camera clicks
and you’re still moving, a shocking shadow
in the periphery
in the peeling flowers
you ectoplasm
you wallpaper paste

you flour yourself whiter
rabbit-mask and clothespins
your bodies a prop a provocation
a masochism

o whenever i snap a selfie i seance you
whenever i refuse
what age would make of me
whenever i tear down
the water-stained veil and marry the portal
between the worlds

this is an anti-domestic
a reverse domestic
a house of wood rotten
and howling ghosts
go ask alice
i think she’ll know

o seductress every time i die
i resurrect you every time
i’m naked in the library
sprouting wings from my
shoulder blades
being an angel

o every time i take a knife
to the frame
lie immobile
on the floor too sad to move
and drape myself
with snakes or move too much

soft-furred legs quivering ready
to spring into flight
doe-eyed angel-winged
stained with light

what happens in a museum when
all the visitors go home what happens
to a house when
the owners leave

what happens to a body when the heart stops
it breathes its final
noxious sigh
it putrefies

what happens to the floorboards when a body
leaks what happens
to a girl when they call her
a woman

woman is domesticated
sags like floorboards under a body’s
dead weight
sags like frown lines

it’s fleshy in a way that stains
it’s empty like a museum that’s closed
for the night
it’s a decision already made

girl is naked innocence
girl is untamed
girl is in the forest pulling up her dress
girl is blur, is transient
girl is still becoming
girl could be animal or dead body or ghost
girl is a growl in the back of the throat

o i wish we could forever be unfinished could belong
to ourselves and the other feral girls this fleeting
femininity muddies my instincts my

clumsy fingers can no longer find the keys

o you left a smudge on the mirror
flowered yourself
into the wall
stepped right out of the frame into
the in-


photo by Olivier Guillard (via unsplash)