Tenants by Layla Lenhardt

There’s a spider in my throat whom I’ve swallowed whole.
She lives there and climbs up when I least expect it.
In silence, she’s watched me twist against you
at violent angles, and she clings to my larynx to muffle
my screams as I watch the shadows slant on the woodgrain.
She’s been there since I was seventeen and she speaks
in a voice I do not recognize.


Late at night, I find lashing reminders of when you came back
from Mexico and tried to haggle with the gas station attendant
over a carton of orange juice. I couldn’t tell which was more
bruised: the carton or your ego. I walked to the car, wringing
my hands, rock salt crunching under my feet.


In the Northern Hemisphere, winter doesn’t last forever.
I’ve learned to tough it out for those four months, but this
chill is unrelenting, a koi fish is frozen in the pond.
It’s a low hum, a 40-decibel reminder of this unforgiving
sharpness in my chest. Loneliness is palpable. We sleep
in crossed positions on the floorboard mattress in our flat.

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