1 Poem by Rachael Cain

On Tenderness

Tenderness she says a feat pulled out of thin air passively plucked

like a wildflower that she gingerly tucks behind her ear tenderness

I hesitate a feat pounded out with a hammer one I grew

accustomed to that once made me wince but now I meet unwilling

yet unflinching you see one is hard because the shrapnel is so

terrifyingly unfamiliar the other because you conquered this war

one hundred years ago and they keep making you go back acting

like it’s the first time you’ve been a body free-falling down flights

of stairs their seismic force weighting your chest stars exploding in

the periphery until it’s lights out:

later you pluck twigs out of your hair

and line them up on your dresser, just so.

later you kneel at their carpeted feet

palms up.

the truth is you could carry her bloody maw in your victorious fist

every single time your ravenous aching learned survival your heart

beating its wild now familiar rhythm the one they beg you to never

speak on but instead:

tenderness, you agree

bowing your head

tucking a wildflower behind your ear

quelling the fire stoked at the core of you.

Rachael Cain is from Peterborough, Ontario and lives in Banff National Park. She's an arts administrator, visual artist and writer. You can follow her on Instagram @paperfortunesart.