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  • Writer's pictureShane

An Exorcism in Three Parts


This evening I burned a page from my journal because your name was on it. With a knife, I tried to be gentle in cutting you out and

since I’m no smoker, I laid it over the stove’s eye, steaming red with heat, and watched the curves of your word curl into each other, only to

disappear. Now, when the villagers come with angry voices, pitchforks and torches, they will have only me to burn because I have beat them to you.

When I am arrested and put on trial for our crime, when I refuse to know you, know me and know I hide and tremble and burn your name,

not because I don’t care or have forgotten what it was like to breathe you in, but because the villagers—with their fire—

will burn us both if they can.


In this prison I can feel you—I know you are near. Your smell seeps through the bars and cracks in cement.

I hear your echoed breathing in outside halls, the sound of shoes echoes in emptiness— you gravitate, float, and shuffle closer until I

see a shadow—two feet under locked door. Time holds its breath as I wait for your voice or letter slid beneath. I stop—waiting for some sign that

you are more than a shadow—more than a bourbon-coated memory of bodies pressed together. But the stepping starts again and the shadow moves

away as I’m left wondering if that was even you— if you are even you or if you even exist as any tangible thing outside of the hands of my imagination—

outside the walls of this prison.


Banished—looking back at memories— rainy Sundays, afternoons-turned-night, your twisting, dancing body illuminated—

candles from a bedside table—and a rhythmic squirming—a desire to stay hidden from the world— But here we are—opposite ends of accepted.

As the verdict fell like ash from burned pages, I thought I would wait—perched high on a hill under the tree outside town—for you.

Being here, though, is different. Now— outside looking in—I know I can’t wait. So into this tree, I begin to cut gently.

With a knife, I carve your name—but not for burning. On this hill, I create a monument— the unburned curves of your word,

a simple tribute. And with your name, another— mine—displayed here for everyone and no one to know the truth—I loved you—enough

to leave.

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