The word we use for cowardice, they
translate to survival.
To be spineless is not to run, but to bend,
curling and uncurling their legs like
turning squares into circles while we
are still fixed at 90 degrees,
spending our lives being told to
sit up straight,
not to slouch,
to fix our hunch.
Octopi arch their bodies backwards
over the lips of cages,
slide through metal bars and
unravel their limbs like card sharks
while we are just begging ours not to break.
Shannon Austin is a writer from Baltimore who is currently finishing up her MA in English Literature at Notre Dame of Maryland University while working as a production manager and copyeditor. She will be starting her MFA in poetry at UNLV this fall. Her poems have been included in The Burlesque Press Variety Show and apt, and her article “Batman’s Female Foes: The Gender War in Gotham City” has recently been published in The Journal of Popular Culture.