How to Read Innocence – April Michelle Bratten
Step One: Prepare for the inevitable
Make a complex trap from bed sheets and squish underneath. Push breath to your knees in smart
packets. Pretend you are safe. Wait for the phone to ring. Squeeze out and run to it on the sixth
shrill sound. Listen to your breaths echo in the mouthpiece. Say,
Index my body. Be greeted with silence.
Step Two: Trip the dark fantastic
Do not take anything lightly. Flail your arms and gyrate your body in darkness. Watch your aura
vibrate, green goo, deep space. Imagine you are a rocket. Believe you twirl above the earth. Keep
maneuvering. Twist away from the library of pain.
Step Three: Imprint
Pretend not to see the man reading you from the rose bush. Ignore his prick.prick.prick. Know
that he will consume the wrong parts of you. Crush a snail with your nervous foot. Let
everything go. Say, Index me, and your body will slowly leak its green.
Step Four: Feed the hollow
Flatten into a darker color. Lose etheric body, emotional body. Become a reader of vulnerability.
Hunt brighter souls and gut their profound wells. Eat their colors clean.
Step Five: Unswallow and keen
Stand in front of a mirror. Wipe ooze from your chin. Hear your mother say,
You could have been anyone, but you are not. Watch your reflection distort, a crew of librarians behind you,
tapping their glasses.
Step Six: Warn the others
You have never been this hungry.