I am threatened with a return of my girlish troubles,
my arm covered red with scabs, my hand a floor
at the abattoir. At night the animal cry is the clock strike
hour of sour milk. At noon the swinging pig is ankles tied.
In the three stories of the Skinner house she is not you.
Her latch on me was fixed and I learned to regard myself
with her repulsion, fixed to the mould in her domestic eye.
My skin was a revolt. How could it not cry animal
when she pulled my hair and knocked me down.
With longing for your presence,
“I am threatened with a return…” is from Mary Shelley’s letter to Jane Williams, March 1823, The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Vol. I, ed. Bennett
Jessica Cuello is the author of Hunt (The Word Works, 2017) and Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016). She has been awarded The 2017 CNY Book Award, The 2016 Washington Prize, The New Letters Poetry Prize, a Saltonstall Fellowship, and most recently, The New Ohio Review Poetry Prize. Her poems can be found in Copper Nickel, Cave Wall, Missouri Review, Pleiades, and Salamander. She is a poetry editor at Tahoma Literary Review.