I Go Back

I douse myself

in faucet water, water


from well

to faucet, from well


to hose. I wear

my girl skin, let loose


cotton underpants hang from

our wooden swing set, built


by the only men who’ve ever

loved me. No one is here now


so I wear hose water, I hose

myself down, open my mouth


open my legs I taste our mountain

from inside out. I dress in water,


hints of metal, all the well picks up

deep earth of family taken like weight,


all pressure against this rusted metal ring.

Green plastic hose, I rope myself. I drink


I hose I wrap my lips around it, fill

my cheeks until I feel the want, my skin


craving burst, my mouth so open so full

so dripping I choke I laugh I cry no one


is here to hear me. To mirror me affirm

me I am not seen so I dress in well


water I dress this wrinkled skin in metal

bits earth bits O I want the well, its depth—


I cry into it, the hose my mouth all

choked tears all tongue and mineral


and bare I want to wear water wear

mountain I want it all back—give me


a family I can fix. I drink her in I stay

this way until I leak laughter, become all


I wanted. Spent, I take my full self

to the tub, I wear the faucet, open myself


to the faucet I leave the door open I wear

the door and while I’m at it I wear my parents




I wear it all. I live like this alone: a cackle

a scream a body full and waking, all water.

Tara Shea Burke is a queer poet from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She teaches writing and poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. She’s been an editor and contest judge, a board member and grants coordinator, is a functional, accessible strength trainer, and hustled in restaurants for twenty years. Her work appears in Khôra, Southern Humanities Review, and Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology (Autumn House Press, 2022).