Three Poems // Maggie Swofford


My best friend tells me that

the birthmark on my neck is sexy,

but it lands in my ears like freezing salt water

or the knife in my sink, sticky with the core

of an apple. I have a freckle

just above the left corner of my mouth

and I never remember it—

sometimes I look in a mirror and cringe.

One corner of my box-of-a-room whispers,

“Why would anyone ever love you?”

when I’m falling asleep

and suddenly the light on one wall

makes the other wall look darker,

and I can see the scuff marks of scraped off paint

where someone banged against the wall.

I didn’t originally want my bed in that corner,

but I let my best friend and ex-boyfriend

convince me to put it there.

But we can’t choose where our freckles go;

sometimes mine disappear or reappear

with the sun’s unhealthy glow.

There must be something in me worth loving;

if not, maybe I’ll at least show someone

who they don’t want to be.

There were days when I’d slither down

the side of cliffs to the ocean

and touch the rocks stained with salt and scales.

If you leaned down close you could see white spots

of bird waste but also flecks of light—

even the hardest rocks can be beautiful.

It hurt to run my hands across the scored surface

but I did it anyway,

musing about all those who have touched me

and stayed despite the roughness.


When he declared that we were broken, unfixable, I lay on the floor and tried not to throw it all up. I knew what we were somewhere, that

blood didn’t tie me to this earth.

There is something bigger

calling me to love—to breathe

is to wait for the person

flexible enough to deal with

my itching fingers

and neck wrenching behind.

What we are was

done.” I told him. “I think we should break up. We’re waiting for something that should have already come.”

My Scent

“You are a strong, delicate flower.”

She says it to me,

and I say it

as I look at my face

coated with my color.

When I scrub,

it comes off too easily.

I think about how

quickly I ascend

from joy to regret,

beauty to plainness.

I am delicate,

and I choose to be,

and I am. I am strong,

and that is what

blooms, and I am

also cruel and selfish.

I’ve said a lot of things

I didn’t mean

when the night

is winding down

to swooshing

wind and blue

streetlights. Please

forgive me.

Her reassurances

should stick longer

than my makeup,

but they wash away

as quickly as time

tells me to find

new soil, to grow

boundaries, to pierce

myself with my thorns

so I change.

Protecting myself

is so hard when

I’m trying to prove

that I’m worthy

of being loved.

When I’m pruning

these petals for their

softness, I can only

find my hard scent

sticking to my intentions.

Please don’t hold

my heart against me.


Maggie Swofford works by day at a publishing company in Peabody, MA. By night, she’s a fierce D&D player who loves Impressionist art and sci-fi movies.


"Cabot Street" by Michaela Savell





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