Christine Papin writes of Léa Papin

Image: Léa Papin (left) and Christine Papin (right).

Poem by Janette Schafer


My body does not exist without you.
She is separate from me now,
so I make her waste away. 
Skin sags beneath my eyes — 
eyes I would have gouged out —

eyes that we once wrapped 
in a scarf about her neck. 
Pools of milk, speckled with blood, 
they never tell you the iris 
turns black when pulled away

from the socket. In the light of 
our candle, we waited for 
them to come. Your torso shivered,
pressed to me. We are the same blood — 
that which is inside our limbs,

that which stains our clothing with 
the guilt of our crime. I am a vine that withers, 
I fade back into the earth. They do not 
let me come to you. I am parched. 
Death clings to my tongue, 
cleaves to the roof of my mouth.

JANETTE SCHAFER is a freelance writer, nature photographer, former opera singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2017, she won a Maenad Fellowship award, through Chatham University. Her work has appeared in: Rigorous Journal, Unlikely Stories V, Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology, Dear America: Reflections on Race, and PublicSource.