I split a fresh pear as my tongue got caught
between my teeth when I articulated to my therapist
that I was stuck in recollections of worthlessness
like leftover winter in April. I let its juice rinse
down my chest and it eased a hole in my gut,
so I sipped at the fruit like how my mother
slowly sipped my yellow tears when I swallowed
my tongue and threaded “Raped”
on my door mat years ago. I was convinced then
that “Victim” was carved into my skin
like dust in honey. I would pick at the sticky lines,
watched them wrap round my heart,
which developed arrhythmia as traumatic memories
stitched to the lining of my lungs, my stomach
fluttered like crisp wasps.
My therapist suggested a seam ripper.
She helped me reach down my throat to pick
at the knitted lines once a week for years.
Eventually the acidic letters came up and glistened
bitterly in the morning sun. I collected a few and wove
Survivor into my pear before I swallowed it whole.
Allyn Bernkopf is pursuing her MFA in poetry at Oklahoma State University, where she is a recipient of the Gladys Burris Creative Writing Fellowship. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Greensboro Review, Unique Poetry Journal, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and The Quotable, and has been anthologized in Women’s Voices Anthology (These Fragile Lilacs 2017) and Lost: Reflections (Medusa’s Laugh Press, 2017). She holds a Master of Arts in English from Weber State University.