Lesser Paradise

adelina sarkisyan

Untitled Document

after Louise Gluck’s A Dedication to Hunger


One winter night,

two mouths like graceless 

blooms. I slip, 

irreversible, into 

a lesser paradise. He asks 

why I cover my body.

He means to uncover

a personal machination,

but all I see are permissions.

Is it spring somewhere? 

Was this feeling once sweet

in its entanglement?

Its brutality? I remember, 

since girlhood, thinking 

of womanhood as a kind of betrayal.

Year after year,

meaning to snuff her out,

breasts and all,

but hunger can’t subvert

the inevitable. Somehow

the body finds its way. Even now

 in this room with this man,

I am doomed.

He is telling me something

important but I can’t hear him.

I am no longer here.

I see my body as he sees it,

from above, and I am 

unafraid. I dream

I am tame. I scream 

because I misremember. Desire, 

how merciless our reunion.

How we’d call it intimacy.

I come back to this:

a woman’s body is a grave;

it will accept anything.

Of this violence,

I am still learning how to say no.


Adelina Sarkisyan is an Armenian-American writer based in Los Angeles. Her writing has been nominated for Best of Net and appeared in various publications, online and in print. She is the Poetry Editor for Longleaf Review. Find her on Instagram @adelinasarkisyan and Twitter @etherealina.