Notes on Un-Apology

Erin Slaughter

once I owned a wooden door

& a field of ice & I was big-hearted, gentle, prefaced

my friends’ names with sweet & kissed them

on the cheeks. once a man called me brilliant & all I wanted

was to be his little wife. for him to trap me

in a wooden home, to zip me up pretty, kiss

me in the kitchen while mushrooms screamed & withered

on the stove. I am beginning to think of the color green

as a last chance that has already passed & I’m sorry

to be so full of raining. but if I could carve a notch

into the lampposts of this city for every person who said home

like it was a promise. we are fools & monsters, all of us, cobweb-headed

& waiting for rupture. once I met a man & his words

unearthed a softness that only comes from loam, from tilling

gently at a gravesite. sometimes we talk about weather

& sometimes we talk about feelings. sometimes

I worry I’m not looking for love, that I’m looking

for a religion to have sex with. in my mouth lives a bitterness

that could draw blood, & I’m sorry but two years I searched

for the river & when I finally found it, it was dead with its palms up.

I dipped my hands in its broken jaw & called it sister. I haven’t spoken

to my sister in two years, a nurse in Texas

with a daughter & a cruelty that jingles

like silver on a charm bracelet. I want to tell you starfish, I want

to tell you dark orchids climbing the windowpane.

the moon would drown trying to drink up

all the things I want. I’m sorry you never learned

the recipe to my mornings. I still think of you when the sky shudders

& floorboards hush themselves to listen.


Erin Slaughter (@erinslaughter23) is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger, and the author of I Will Tell This Story to the Sun Until You Remember That You Are the Sun (forthcoming from New Rivers Press in 2019). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, New South, Passages North, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University. You can find her online at