“You’ll amount to nothing,
and nobody will ever love you.”
Every something is an echo of nothing.
I have been nothing wandering around
on mismatched legs, ears sprouting from my cheeks,
knees, shoulder blades, listening for my future.
Nothing fills my bed, binds its muscled arms
around me in the dark. Nothing has been tagging
my steps, biting my ankles. Nothing sings:
“you ain’t got nobody” on endless loop, that scratch
in my favorite record, on my one last nerve.
Cut me open and peer into the Nothing—
reckoning of everything I once believed in.
Nothing paces the edges of my room, muttering
my mother’s curse.
Elya Braden is a writer and mixed-media artist living in Ventura County, CA and is assistant editor of Gyroscope Review. She is the author of the chapbooks Open The Fist (2020) and The Sight of Invisible Longing, a semi-finalist in Finishing Line Press’s New Women’s Voices Competition (forthcoming 2023). Her work has been published in Calyx, Prometheus Dreaming, Rattle Poets Respond, Sequestrum, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Coachella Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets.