Literally

Every tired girl in Baltimore
goes to write a poem, finds herself looking
in the mirror, eight
in the morning, face
full of adult acne blooms,
and not one simile
to behold since every neuron
in the brain is crushed

by the literal, there is literally a mirror,
there is the face, literally.

Literally there will be no sleep
and the coffee will be literal,

the corn flakes literal, the wind chill, literal
the same walk to the same places on the same
literal schedule, identical every day week

month identical to the month before,
thinking of time now, which is also
literal, and the most violent constraint of them all.


This text originally appeared in Eleni Padden’s All the Parts of the Animal (2017).


Eleni Padden cooks, studies, writes, and lives in the mountains of Morgantown, West Virginia. She grew up in the muggy green magic of Tampa, Florida, and has spent time over the past six years evolving in Baltimore and Denver. She graduated from Johns Hopkins, where she learned stuff about poems and brains, and is currently pursuing her PhD in neuroscience at West Virginia University with a research focus on the neurobiology of post-traumatic stress. She is really, really trying to learn how to play the electric guitar and would like to at some point work on a shrimping boat. She kind of wants to be President one day. She dislikes salad. @elenipadden on the ‘gram.