dead girls and dead names By Annalisa Hansford

dead girls and dead names

The fabric from my binder grips
the skin around my chest so tightly
I can barely breathe.

When I try to sing along to that
new Taylor Swift song,
the one about dead girls haunting small
towns, similar to how dead names
haunt rebirthed souls,
my lungs give out, rendering
my hymns inaudible.

Before running to the other side
of the street to get to my
bus stop, I try to make out faces in
these automobiles speeding
past me. Accelerating as if
my body is a mere hallucination,
unforgiving as if my pain
just a figment of my imagination.

When I get to the other
side, my heart beats to the
tune of butterflies buried within
my stomach, pressing on
for an escape from their
captivity. My breathing
quickens to the rhythm
of my skeleton’s

On day trips to large cities like New York,
I whisper to my body in advance to forgive
me. The tightened cloth I use as a barrier
between my psyche and my anatomy
digs into my flesh, weighing me
down as I carry the burden of
century-long oppression and
injustice on my back.

My body wishes it
could transport back in time,
back before I existed,
back when I was nothing
and felt the same.

When I was merely the
blood and sweat
of my parents who had yet
to meet and intertwine
their hatreds together.

Now I have blood of my own,
which I bleed proudly at the utterance
of slurs. They give my wounds a home.

By Annalisa Hansford


Annalisa is from the lonely suburbs of Plymouth Meeting, Pa and will be attending Emerson College in the fall of 2021. They have received recognition from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and have been longlisted for Grindstone Literary’s 2020 International Poetry Prize. In their free time, they enjoy listening to indie music, rubbing their dog’s belly, and eating vegan ice cream.

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