One enters a Hellmouth like a snack but exits like a bullet. Crushed between its lips, the body becomes a beautiful, metallic, and oily object. Where the lips turn it over, they split. Blood rushes the body crimson and over the tongue as a pulpy liquid, bubbles acidic down the tongue’s slope to a throat but no swallow, only a slap against a back, a wall of red flesh for blood to eat through. The body boils and reforms again, and when the longest time has passed, the wall opens. Blood splashes all around you, steams on a white surface and you realize the steam is a gift. Beyond the mouth, Hell turns to ice. You can walk awhile feeling almost nothing, a temperature you think might be normal before your limbs stiffen, before they swell and blacken. Your body becomes a block, useless to you, but it phases, and between phasing, you can think. You think about all the invisible things a body carries inside a mind and you think, if you could just cut them out, sever them from the body and yourself, there’d be nowhere left for Hell to find you.
About Dustin Pearson
Dustin Pearson is the author of A Season in Hell with Rimbaud (BOA Editions, 2022), Millennial Roost (C&R Press, 2018), and A Family Is a House (C&R Press, 2019). He is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, and The Anderson Center at Tower View, Pearson has served as the editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review and a Director of the Clemson Literary Festival. He won the Academy of American Poets Katharine C. Turner Prize and John Mackay Graduate Award and holds an MFA from Arizona State University. The recipient of a 2021 Pushcart Prize, his work also appears or is forthcoming in The Nation, Poetry Northwest, Blackbird, Vinyl Poetry, Bennington Review, TriQuarterly, [PANK], The Literary Review, Poetry Daily, Hayden’s Ferry Review,and elsewhere.