Disguises for the Waxing Moon

I cried the first time

I saw a woman skin a rabbit,

her efficient hands

   oiled by death.


But I’ve done it too: dissolved

into the trees, become unlikely predator.


Once you call

yourself a hunter, you will never stop

shooting your own shadow, scattering like birdshot,

   like shattered clay, like the sudden glut of feathers

     clogging my mouth when I wake pressed into the pillow.


His eyes flutter & his mouth hangs

slack as a clapper in a bell.  Love song

for rock salt in the doorway

& a shotgun.


   I see him, fallen

 open.  The way sleep unlocks a man.

If there is a Clyde in him—rounded

 shoulders, cocked hip,

 a hesitator—I will take him to the vault,

   turn out my pockets, key open each secret

     as if there is no approaching danger.



Emily O'Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Gigantic Sequins, Muzzle Magazine, and Vector, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books' Pamet River Prize (forthcoming 2014).