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Consent & Good Bones

by Alyssa SteinSurvivor, Hodgkin's LymphonaDecember 14, 2022View more posts from Alyssa Stein


what does consent mean

if you aren’t saying yes for yourself

if every incision, stitch, vial of blood

is done because i am too scared to say no

if my refusal is trapped behind my teeth and

consent is given by others using my tongue

can i call this abuse

i am laying here naked

letting the pain to consume me

listening to their machines beeping in surround sound

i wonder if the nurse that held me down

saw the word consent in my eyes

my body is passed around

from doctor to doctor with

an idea, a diagnosis, a solution

playing god in their lab coats and scrubs

children that never stopped the game of pretend

– this does not feel like consent to me


Good Bones

she has worn this skin all her life

its familiarity like a sunday dinner

and long nights spent laughing

with souls so tangled with her own

while sipping hot cocoa with her brother

her body was a fortress

with a foundation built by her father

and finished by her mother

she was made of brick and mortar

with windows that allowed the sun

to kiss her every shadow

she grew up holding hands with safety


so, she was unafraid

when the wolf appeared

huffing and puffing

she laughed and danced

and rang her bells when he didn’t succeed

but the wolf did not like this

and soon the wolf returned

huffing and puffing

and she did not know fear

until her windows shattered

and the brick crumbled

as the wolf smiled at her ruins

at his success

she ran from the familiarity of her own skin

and traded places with a stranger

now she spends her time

looking over her shoulder

fearing the wolf’s return

for the wolf will want more

than the taste of her fear on his tongue

if she is found


she runs and runs and

craves the sense of security

she left behind in the carcass of her past

she feels like nothing more

than a cardboard home

floating in the middle of the sea

but while she is lost, she still knows

she would sooner drown, than

let the wolf find her again

– good bones

These poems were featured in the 2022 Body issue of Elephants and Tea Magazine! Click here to read our magazine issues.

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