Rejection Letters

Sunday Guilt

I want to apologize but I’m not sure for what. I’ve always held pulpit-speak ripped from my father’s throat in my own as scab and as scandal, betrayal pulsing in my jaw. So this time, I bite it. Let it bleed.

I swallow it all and after it fuses with stomach acid, I cough up bile into my palm, cradle it for a breath, and then spit into it. All of the apologies and confessions held in my belly see the light of day.

So I smush them between my hands and let them run down my wrists, fester in scar tissue. They splatter on my tennis shoes and I leave them there, let mud cake over them, until rain washes the mud away, leaving bloodtracks on the rubber.

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Madison Zehmer is a poet and wannabe historian from North Carolina, with published and forthcoming work in Déraciné, Drunk Monkeys, Gone Lawn, LandLocked, and elsewhere. She is editor in chief of Mineral Lit Mag, and her first chapbook, “Unhaunting,” will be released by Kelsay Books in 2021.

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