Apotropaic, by Jen Rouse


Turn the bowl upside down
and bury your heart
at the threshold.
There are no demons
that are not your very own.
You say, all women
are sorceresses—
but only because
you are so easily seduced.

By the time it takes
to bury the bowl
and build this house around it
maybe your faith will
fall down around you,
maybe the demon
you are so hesitant
to embrace will boldly
enter anyway.

What have you scripted
on this earth-darkened rim?
Serpent swallowing
its own tail? A tether
to keep the dead in place? Oh, we have all
been there. Knocking on
our own doors, jumping
at the glimpse
of a reflection
in a corner of the night.


Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Crab Fat, ParenthesesAnti-Heroin Chic, Poet Lore, Gulf Stream, and elsewhere. Her work will be included this summer in the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at jen-rouse.com and on Twitter @jrouse.


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