Sarah R. Stockton

Protection Rite for Most of the Girls

My first instinct is to tell you not to love. Fold your curiosities in first-aid gauze,
and all magnificent, glowing parts in flame-retardant palls. Rebuke, wary, fire.
Always, always, always you were afraid. And yes, I know this new fear wraps you up
in Speed Stick arms, holds your belt loops and pulls, puts kindling up to your buried fire—
look in the glowing window, and tell me the truth: is the knight of cups a wolf?
Is your collective want an empty gullet? Is the cozy house on funerary fire?
Years out, some woman tells you every feeling is a mirror. You will reconsider
the fear, the heat, your body that holds power like a cauldron steaming over merry fire:
Everything about you warrants sharing, so feed yourself before you feed all others.
Drape yourself in moonlight and velour. Eat fuckboys and red Starburst. Carry fire.
Keep all your softest garments on, turn off the lights, and sleep while you’re alone and wild.
One lilac evening, princess under safe skies: skin and shoulders, sex and stars, marry fire.


Sarah R. Stockton lives in California, where she writes and teaches high school. She was a winner of the 2018 Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing poetry contest. She is @stocktonianslip on Twitter and her website is She respects an expensive jelly bean.

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