Spotlight: ache / therapy session 1


  1. when you came here, you were a shadow on the wall of the episcopalian church on the water, fourteen hours away. you had your mother’s face and father’s eyes. limbs that bent into edges and straw, skinny red lines frowning across your left wrist. a hunger you couldn’t name yet rustled beneath your ribs.
  2. you met the first man in a lightning storm of your own design. you were possessed by the liquor, big blanks of time stretched out in the backs of your eyes, one wrong turn and a flashing light away from a felony. he watched you skin your knees and poured rum-coke down your waiting throat, threw you on the bed when he thought you were gone enough.
  3. imagine a montage: grime, holes-in-the-wall. the sparkle of eyeshadow and lipstick and blow. imagine saying no and him, not stopping. imagine saying yes because it sounds better on your tongue. imagine saying nothing because it doesn’t make a difference.
  4. there are bruises, blue-black bloomings. there are nails in your throat, red-eyed, white-crust nose. a ringing in your ears that only stops when his hands press tight ‘round your neck. you imagine what it would be like to break as his fingers find your thighs.
  5. one night, you are sitting on the balcony with the man you think you love. the beer is crawling down. his hands are sliding across your body. you remember the church on the water, how your parents are still in love where your freckles meet the corners of your eyes. you feel no growing in your stomach, pushing its way toward your mouth. you let the drink pass your lips, his breath touch your neck, swallow it back down.



therapy session 1

i have forgotten gentle. say
gentle. i have forgotten hips
not marred by barbed wire
teeth, blue-black
bruises shaped like lips
and knuckles. say
tender. what is sex
but a split
lip? what is fuck if not hair ripped
from scalp, fingers curled in cold
noose around neck? say slow. i can’t
remember a time without whip-
lash, a leash made
of leather and slur. slowly.
i am nothing
but a gap
between my thighs, stripped
every night, bleeding
out each morning.


Charlotte Covey is from St. Mary’s County, Maryland. She currently lives in St. Louis, and she earned her MFA in poetry in spring 2018. She has poetry published or forthcoming in journals such as The Normal School, Salamander Review, CALYX Journal, The Minnesota Review, and The Monarch Review, among others. In 2015, she was nominated for an AWP Intro Journal Award. She is co-editor-in-chief of Milk Journal and managing editor of WomenArts Quarterly Journal.