A Love Letter to a Room, Grown Up by Cadence Pentheny


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A Love Letter to a Room, Grown Up

This is the dream where I always leave before you let go and the lake that holds no swords or magic kingdoms keeps us diving simply to test the true capacity of our hollowness. On the bad mornings, fragments of bone left behind from the amputation of my wings come loose from their holds and stab me between the shoulder blades. My bird mouth is never not hungry; it never learned how to feed itself. I woke up haunting for a song, a kiss, but our mouths are tombs and whoever gets too close will choke on the dirt.

This is the time when you left thumb prints on my wrist bones, skin flint eyelids set ablaze driftwood washed to shore. Little sisters took me swing dancing with tongue studs clicking on teeth, rode the subway and left glitter in the door jambs. “I’ll take you home”, he said, but they laughed at me for tying virgin tongue-knots in cherry stems while the heat turned our lungs into drums, leather stretched tight. These walls remain jam-packed with my own heat, like the monsters in children’s books who taught us that to be loved was to be swallowed whole. I’ve spent eleven years practicing the art of the Irish goodbye. Sometimes the grocery list becomes a poem and flowers grow from the dirt under my fingernails, moss under my tongue, lichen on the roof of my mouth.

This is the place where hip flexors caught in hands, caught in the tangle of sheets at the edge of the bed. In the tangle of the mind she warmed madness like a feast and begged me to eat of it, a mother to my starving hands, the one who taught the Right to say ‘please’ with its sharp claws and the Left to say ‘sorry’ with thumbs calloused ‘round the shape of her teeth. The illness of lycanthropy – once a month, fur mixes with blood. I’m bigger than my bones but they keep telling me that I still have to learn how to call them home.



Cadence Pentheny

Cadence Pentheny is 21 years old and a NH native, where they grew up homeschooled and surrounded by dogs, books, and art projects. In 2016 they graduated from a small college in PA with degrees in sociology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. They have returned home and are about to start their second year with a national service organization in which young people get the privilege of working with students in under-resourced public schools. You can witness some of their shenanigans on their Instagram @bird_mouthed.