Louisa Schnaithmann

There was a choice:
hold your palms out
to receive the offering
or walk away unscathed.

I chose the former.
My hands flourished
with red, caustic.
I kept my rage so locked
tight even my own
key rotted away.

I couldn’t pick the lock.
It would’ve been easy
to explode. But still,
I kept quiet, holding
my breath like a knife.

It would be years before
I cooled. I look at my hands.
No longer flames.

I am trying to be kind.
I am trying to forgive
myself, who, in the end,
has caused me so much harm.


Louisa Schnaithmann (she/her) is a poet living in the Greater Philadelphia area. Her work has appeared in Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, and Voicemail Poems, and her poem “On the Problem of Womanhood” was nominated for Best of the Net in 2019.
Twitter: @eboninthehedges

Instagram: @eboninthehedges