Aftermath by Wanda Deglane

there is so much more that needed to be said
about what you did to me. I just never got the chance.

does it live in you at all? do you still sleep stiff and
soundless, like a rock eternally falling, never

quite hitting ground? do you dream of my face,
slicked with sweat and pinched in fear?

there is a quiet and somber part of me
that knows you have no idea what you’ve done.

it was just like any other encounter for you:
you pumping quick to the rhythm of your own

moans. the delicate cotton obstacles. your hand
squeezing a throat, your fingers digging into skin,

anchoring. your precious orgasm. never mind the
hole you fucked had a pulse, had a name, had a

scream stuck on her lips and fragile innocence
you shattered with every noncommittal thrust.

then again, it was just like any other encounter
for me, too. the quiet, the grime both on my skin

and creeping inside me. the pain and discomfort
I could never settle down in. the no bouncing around

my head, like a bird smashing repeatedly into
a window. looking for a way out. dying right

there on the floor for however long you lasted.
you never even noticed.

I never wanted to give you the satisfaction, but
it’s true: you took a piece of me that day. I’ve been

trying to fill it ever since with buttons and paper
planes and red lipsticks like a magpie. this isn’t me.

it’s just clutter. you took a piece of me and I’ve been
trying to pretend it never existed to begin with.

I keep this trauma like a new personality trait. I keep it
like a shout spilling from my mouth I can never restrain.

I am at a point where the world needs me to be healed.
it needs me to shut up. yet I talk about it again and

I’m scolding myself, shut up shut up, no one wants to hear this
again. every time you talk about it, you make everyone sad.

why do you find comfort being the person who makes everyone sad?
I’m threading this needle through my lips. I’m sewing it shut

so tight the terror stays trapped in my lungs. and when
I’m done, I’ll do my eyes, too. this is what I want to know:

how do I take myself out of a day that has its tongue
wrapped around my ankles, dragging me back, inch by inch?

how do I take myself out of a moment that happens again
and again and without ceasing? what do I do when everybody’s

done all they could to fix me and nothing inside me has healed?

the truth is, you didn’t take any part of me. you left behind
soot-scarred skin and a heart palpitating in its own

nerves and a vulva perpetually reliving its agony. and you
left behind a corpse- a small, shriveled version of me

attached at my rib. how she wakes screaming and shakes
the reason loose from my mind. I strangle her over

and over and still she lives, rests her head on my chest
and sighs. this is the gift from you I keep, the one

no one sees. the grief with her arms wrapped round
my waist, head bobbing beside me. the ghosts she

can’t stop seeing everywhere she looks. the way she
rips open my mouth and finally teaches me to scream.


Wanda Deglane is a capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), and Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019). twitter: @wandalizabeth

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