Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

Depression is a Girl to Dismantle Bone by Bone

It’s like this no matter where you go—

The girl in the shower won’t stop stalking you.

Even after moving to be with the one you love, it is her


you wake to, sleep with at night. Like a story

where you lie the entire time, she has taken over.

Beg her with a knife. Push your fingers into

the corners of her grimace. Find a way to coax the hinges.


Remember the first time you sat atop a man? A covey of birds

(the dark unraveled) flew out her eyes and she walked

down the path to push the button labeled “woman”


so you could open wide every bottled bone like Let

There Be Light and there was—

Undo, break every connective tissue. Remember


to stand where it hurts the most, to shimmer

despite what she did. Take her by the mouth

with the bit of your hand. Torch her like wind.


I Used to Be Terrible at Loving

I’d go in my night shirt
and yell at the moon as if
my abusers were the birds
trying to sleep in my hair. Then,
if I was with a man who didn’t
abuse me, I wouldn’t know
what to call them. If I unwrapped
my fist, would they use theirs
to squeeze the fruit. Last night,
the one I learned to love properly
asked me if I knew how much
strength it takes to choke someone.
I said, yes. It’s called throttling. I used to
throttle birds as they rose in my chest.
I’d do this over and over until
I found a more wounded hand
to take the entire nest.


Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick’s work has appeared in Salt Hill, Stirring, Versal, The Texas Observer, Devil’s Lake, Four Way Review, among others. She is listed as a contributor of both poetry and prose in A Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assualt published by Civil Coping Mechanisms. She has chapbooks out with Thrush Press and Mouthfeel Press. Hardwick serves as the poetry editor for The Boiler Journal and her first full-length, Before Isadore, was recently published by Sundress Publications.

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