Sara Ryan

Look What I Have Done

I welcomed you like a hood of antlers.

like bone broke down to velvet. like growth
and the wind that raised me. in my mind,

heaven is full of animals the earth didn’t get to keep.

nice things taken away from a shrieking child
with red cheeks. the do-do. the Tasmanian tiger.

the hartebeest. the passenger pigeon. inside me:

some goddess of war. maybe she carries a bow
and arrow. maybe she is sculpted of marble.

it is Friday, and I am swallowing the sun.

the rats in my parent’s backyard are so big, so strong,
that they take the traps with them. they snap

in the night, but the yard is empty. my womanhood

hibernates in the winter. blows shrill whistles in the damp
mornings. croons the dead birds into small funerals

of feathers. I must stay calm so as to preserve my wings.

you could destroy them easily, just like that.
with the bark of a tree. with a small gun.


Sara Ryan is the author of the chapbooks Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned (Porkbelly Press) and Excellent Evidence of Human Activity (The Cupboard Pamphlet). She was the winner of the 2018 Grist Pro Forma Contest, and her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Pleiades, DIAGRAM, Booth, Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain, and others. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Texas Tech University. See more of her work at