INTERSTATE

BRONWEN BRENNER

I eat rum cake in your home state. The rum cake is stained red by a maraschino cherry, an imprint where the fruit was (fruit sugar-soaked and vibrant and ecstatically unnatural). An imprint, referred to by some as a depression.

A coral sits in a depression, a corallite, for the duration of its life.

The innermost part of a coral is the calyx, which is lined with blades called septa. Your septum piercing, your blade tattoo. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, also called septa. You take the train in.

Did you know that most corals are neither male nor female? You too, stone. Stone coral, so stony in your corallite, so skeletal in your hunger, so red / red / red.

Rug pulled out from beneath me / carpet muncher. Eating away at myself like some sort of cannibal, then trying to cauterize the wound / axe wound / and accidentally setting myself on fire. Cutting off my hair in order to be less flammable. No solid ground to stand on, no ground to stand, and besides, my legs are shaking.

A coral can regenerate the floor beneath itself by secreting calcium carbonate, a compound found in pearls and eggs.

Walking on eggshells, shattering the floor beneath myself no matter how delicate I try to be. Then giving up and dancing. Dancing with the shards in my feet, bleeding all over the dance floor and smiling anyway. My bodily secretions don’t form floors; don’t form anything solid I can stand upon.

Eating the rum cake, eating the cherry, eating oysters, eating whatever. Eating dirt. Swallowing sand with hopes that it will turn into a pearl. I am forming a pearl that will sparkle in the sunlight. I will form something solid in this red depression of a mouth.

BRONWEN BRENNER has written for Teen Vogue and This is Fine, a VICE newsletter. Her poetry appears in the bestselling anthology Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies), which won a UK National Book Award. She has received recognition from Princeton University and The Poetry Society. She was born in 2001 and lives in New York.

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