The Encounter

BY Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes

You meet a woman in the woods. Black hair to her bare feet, flesh flickering between child and crone. The one you have dreamed of all these nights of wandering. She begins her seduction by removing her dress. A subtle one because she wears many dresses, layers of lace and cotton, each rippled with hundreds of buttons. She undoes each button slowly and you cannot tell whether the buttons are made of baby teeth or snake’s eyes. Some slither out of her fingers when unlatched and, come alive by her touch as you wish to be, fall to the moss-covered ground. They pile and writhe. 

You are tired from your journey. You have been walking for many days. The light is falling through the strips of pine and you wish to seek shelter, respite from the night. But you cannot look away. 

Let her continue her unbuttoning. She decreases. Her dresses fall to the ground and, like the buttons enlivened by her touch, begin to move, to mass with breath at her feet. The distance between her feet and your feet is closer now, indistinguishable. The ground is mired in this swarm of cloth made flesh and scales. She is so small now. 

Let her do what she wants, what she pleads from you with words of bark. Let her cut open your throat—no birds will escape. Let her climb inside, dig with her fingernails into your pit. She can rest there. She is tired too. Let your bones form around her, your ribcage making room for her shape. She is finally still, naked and asleep. Now, you may continue on your way, feeling her weight nestled deep inside of you.


Ghost Ocean


Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes is an MFA Candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Gabrielle's poetry translations have appeared in Issues Magazine.