SHE SMILES AT ME WITH ALL OF HER TEETH By Dani Tauber

i lean in to light a cigarette off a

burner on the stove and catch my

reflection in the microwave door

on the way back up, all lipstick

smear and tangled hair. bright

girl, had so much potential at

one point a long time ago;

thirty-one years old like thirty-

one tally marks on the wall of

a fucking prison cell and

haunted beyond consolation

by so, so many ghosts. the

bullies and then the gropers

and the pillhead and the

predator, the ones who left

her for dead so many times

and kept coming back to

scavenge her bones only to

find her still alive, still trying

to claw her way out of hell

despite the portal being

right in her own rib cage –

they crowd behind her eyes

with unkind, grasping hands

in mirrors and puddles and

they live inside her blood

and under her fingernails

and behind her back teeth.

she scares me every time.