Dani Janae

Beast // God

When my mother beat me
instead of an apology, she would bring 
me lavender: soaps, creams, perfumes.

I held my body taut like a wire for years,
my tongue pressed to the roof of my mouth
and nailed there. I said thank you for the offering

of my own blood, the color purple; my mother 
laying flowers at my feet, washing my feet like
a savior. So much tied into her fist: the venom

and the antidote, the little god. 
No one beats me anymore, but I keep 
dried lavender in every room of my apartment. 

Comfort is a beast. And shame. Lord, my shame.
I never learned not to anticipate the flash of 
a palm, the shock of white inside my eye.

If you are listening, I want to tell you everything.
Strange as it is, everything: beating a child, 
bathing in an acquittal. I want to tell you it all

and maybe it will bring me the balm of silence. 
Maybe it will guide me out of the flash in the dark.
Maybe I will learn how to love anything else. 

Dani Janae is a poet and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her work has been published by Argot Magazine, Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, Palette Poetry, Wax Nine Journal, Levee Magazine, and Slush Pile Magazine. Her manuscript, Motherless Fruit, was selected as a finalist for the 2021 CAAPP Book Prize. She lives in South Carolina.