Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

When She Explains Her Eating Disorder

It’s as if I’m a harpy &
everything I eat must first
come to me in a dream. I want
to know a man I’ve never met,
a man I’d lick in an open field
after a fly-in; he would torch me,
my wings, even after taking
his tendon from bone &

you could say my mouth’s a bullet
& my body a wound peeling
under itself—half-eaten peach, pressed
in a space between trees—that’s where
I, feathers for hair at midnight,
consume what I’ve denied.

He Said, This is How Adults Like It

At the entrance to the tunnel, I hear
a man’s laughter.

Having dug a trench
the last two weeks while the children sleep,

I’ve grown roots.
My husband and I play Uncharted each night.

As we search for video-game treasure, I find
my mind wanders

between this Year of Mother & Happy Wife
to the year I bent

far against his storm, a young tree, green,
the man said,

as he worked to twist his hands as a farmer’s
in a field

burying his kill after stripping of it what he needs
to sustain himself.

I get it now,
in the dirt, the older version of me looking

for the buried
version, nineteen, secrets between her teeth, hidden

keys to a fieldhouse where she might have found
safety but found instead

Him. In the middle, I find a trench,
his body against

a girl’s. His hands
around her throat. This time I bring a knife.

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick’s work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Salamander Magazine, Salt Hill, Sugar House Review, The Texas Observer, PANK, Four Way Review, Diologist, Harpur Palate, Passages North, among others. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program, Hardwick serves as the poetry editor for The Boiler Journal.

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Fall 2021