Clotted Air

by Moira J.

Bruised skin feels softer than the rest,
             the raised fists under flesh begging to

             be poked and prodded, herding the ache
                         into its pen. It embraced me like a

                                     tender friend—a hand on a consenting
             throat that closed around and said:

this is my love.

            When I left the strangler’s home, I went to the nearest
Quik Mart, and bought the only pack of cigarettes

                                        I would ever buy, the sole passenger
                          in my car, and my body emptied itself
              as exhalations through the opened windows.

I’m not sure why I had this desire,
             perhaps I wanted to die a little faster for
             thirty minutes, to poison myself behind the wheel.

                                       You know what it’s like,
             when you drive past the fields, and your eyes wish to

disappear among them, until your burred heels turn into
                          hooves, and your life is anew.

            But, the pack stayed unopened, and the ripe,
                                      peach sky felt sweetened against my aching neck,
            my grandmother’s pearl necklace hanging
across the bruised skin—where small moons skipped

across a purple lake.

Moira J. is an agender, white-coded descendant from the White Mountain band of the Apache nation. Based in Boston, they are a writer of poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. Moira J.’s work looks to challenge and interrogate narratives about indigeneity, grief, illness, kinships, and sexuality. They have work published with The Shallow EndsPhoebe JournalThird Point Press, and more. They have upcoming publications with The Shade JournalCosmonauts Avenue, and FIVE:2:ONE Magazine. You can find them on Twitter @moira_j, or online at