The German word for poison is gift

Hayley Bowen


That must be why I thanked you for this rot you have given me.
You eat me from the inside out and I let you
turn my bones to sawdust and leave me
hollowed. Once you thought I was your friend.
Once I thought you could be mine. The day I climbed
that tree and the night we kissed and kissed I never thought
something so strong could someday snap.
Some deaths are quieter that way,

invisible to the sun and all her lovers until it’s too late. Even Eve
believed the snake, for a little while. Poison
is on purpose, sometimes, and I assume this giving
must be on purpose, too. This thing you gave me,
almond scented, brown-eyed, too pale to be pretty
except you’re perfect. Somehow, still.

But the hollowing, the hollowing. You gave it to me
dressed up with gold and forgiveness
and I thanked you.



Hayley Bowen graduated from Syracuse University with her MFA in Creative Writing Poetry in May 2023, and will begin her PhD studies in English Literature at Temple University in the fall of 2023, where she will focus on British Romantic literature and ecocriticism. Hayley is the 2022 winner of the Joyce Carol Oates poetry prize, former Poetry Editor at Salt Hill Journal, and her first chapbook, “Dearly Departed,” was published by Finishing Line Press in 2022.