you ask the wise woman
how it is you will know
what to do with yourself.

she gives you a recipe.

put in your pan cayenne, honey, and a little pig's blood.
leave it to burn

you do. At first, it smells
like itself. Like three things
together. Then just carbon.

You bring it to her to ask
what do I do with this
and her forest is burnt

toothpicks laid in a row
and the ashes of stones.
the wind blows through.

there's something in your eye. you tear
it's still there. you gush and gush nose
and eyes and throat and pores.

you are the wettest thing in this dead
place. the ashes are mud now. your boots
are wet. you cry and snot yourself a bath

the mud was ash and tears
the ash was rock and house
and deer and child and it is all on you

it presses every bit of your skin
you know the place of every bit of your skin
you slough it off. leave it to soak.

you bleed back to your house.
you make yourself a bed of gauze.
lay down with your frypan.
cook the bloody scraps that fell in overnight.
this is your breakfast. this is how
you will start your days from now on.

Alex Ehrhardt is a graduate of the College of Wooster, currently living and writing in the Boston metro area. If you’re ever in town, he’ll probably be reading on an open mic. He has had fiction published in the Goliard and memoir in the first issue of Maps for Teeth. His poetry is previously unpublished.