• Flux Magazine

"Burnt Sugar" by Halle Dana

Realistically, I suppose it’s easy to realize

That I guess I am beautiful.

But I wish my remembrance came from a

Place of peace.

I wish I was so tiny I was wrapped up in

The fleshy meat of a walnut,

Tucked deep somewhere,

Untouched and safe.

I wish my hands had never touched the

Things that men use to wound me;

Fleshy-pink, and frightening.

I’m not supposed to be vulnerable!

You are supposed to be scared of me right now.


Am I allowed to have power?

My body is too hollow to fill with

Righteousness.

Not enough drops in the ocean to make

Me feel safe.

Not enough silk in the world to wrap up my

Cocoon.


No, I realize I am beautiful because men

Like to show me.

There is sweat on my brow,

Your eyes bore into the side of my face,

Trail down the curves of my cheekbones.

What is soft in me makes you hard,

Makes you firm.

You take.

What a pretty fixture in this room,

This room that centers on you.


The traditional yard stick makes me realize

You don’t measure up.

You poor, fragile thing.

Has the world pushed you down,

Has it given you rug-burn on your knees?

No, it hasn’t.

I soothe you with a firm press of a hand.

Oh don’t worry, I see your pain!

Do you honestly believe my hands,

My tiny hands,

Were made just for you?


I am not your mother,

But you want me to nurture you all the same.

I am sweet, I am smiles, I am charm.

I am the warm vessel, and you the

Endless pouring out.

You want to fill me,

You can’t hide it.

But I am hollow, too hollow for you,

For the man before,

The man after.

You are endless, a steady stream of ants

Cutting through the concrete.


After you leave here,

I will shake like a dog emerging from the sea.

I will cast off the memory of your eyes on my face,

I will scrub until it stings,

Blood rushing to the surface like an inside kiss.

I pour out what you attempted.

I am an empty, beautiful container.

Clean and fresh and new for the next one

To come.

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