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Ashley Mullin: “A Girl Is a Gun”

2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Winner

This remarkable poem enthralled me from the first reading. I got caught up in the poem’s velocity, the way it built up to that shattering line at the end. How many of us have been that girl? Ashley Mullin lived to tell the tale.

— Alexis Rhone Fancher

***

A Girl Is a Gun

 

I was dulled and hollowed out and made something funny.
Neither a product of the world around me
or a product of my own design. 

Just existing in slow harmony.
The ground shakes and here I am,
born just as I always was. 

I thought to be loved was to carve myself out of stone,
chisel down the rough bits
and force myself into the palm of your hand. 

I wanted to fashion myself into a weapon for you.
I wanted you to love this side of me,
the side that was not afraid of dying
and bleeding out on your bedroom floor. 

I thought you would like this,
the enormity of my dedication to you. 

You said you liked me because I never stopped moving.
I didn’t know how to tell you I was afraid to stand still.

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