/anna sverclova

mottle : verb

to mark with spots or smears of color
     use it in a sentence– the cow’s red coat mottled in white
                               the photo album in my sister’s closet– page 1:
                                  my face before I can even remember being alive
                                                                      mottled crimson by a myth
                                               the mottled girl is a family secret
                     white like milk and glistening in the sun 
          a star shaped gash a carving
    everyone wants gone
 my mothers fingers in the scar cream
       once, a girl I knew put her finger in the dent
                   like she could solve the puzzle by touching it
                                        the right side of my face tilts to the earth
                                                                    like it’s watching cover for me
                                                                         while I look the other way
                    sometimes in the mirror I cover it with my hand
        to see what I might have become in another life
   where a tooth or a woodchip or a screwdriver
never met the child’s face screaming
               bleeding into her mouth from her eye
                                     if there had been stitches or a band aid
                                                                  or anyone watching when the girl
                                                 cried until it scabbed and there was nothing
                            anyone could do (which was the only thing they ever did)
the myth was a dog or a low countertop I ran into, repeatedly
                 in one universe, I somehow didn’t feel the pain
                            gouged the medallion right out half-conscious
                                                in the other world, the dog was off its leash
                                                                             either way it is a blameless injury
                                                                        but still, in photographs, I am turned
                                 some part of me bearing the shame of my own neglect
embedded in me turning me over 90 degrees over and over until
                                  my whole body knocks sideways
                                                                              by the shadow

best practices

I tell myself         I am leaving    & it is the smoke    climbing    headfirst out the window
           the first time            in a tent           grass    rolled in a page               of the bible 

                                      we swore
                                 we’d breathe

the whole campsite 
through our bodies

filter the ground                                                                             up
from our mouths
                                                                                                    I learned to grow

       between my own 
           teeth & fingers

           hold and light  small fires  into myself

                               I am building myself                                     like a tree :
                                               gathering myself
                                                                                                  from the soot in the air

Anna Šverclová is the totally queer poet, director & organizer of Macalester College’s slam poetry team, MacSlams. They were born and raised in the Twin Cities suburbs and they cry whenever it snows. Over the years, they have become an expert in layering. Their secret? A journal compliments every outfit. Their poetry discusses sexual assault, generational trauma, and redneck fuckery. Their work has been featured in Macalester’s Chanter and The Rising Phoenix Press, and more is forthcoming in Storm of Blue, The River Styx, and Passages North. More about Anna can be found at annasverclova.com