Dominique Chestand
Dominique Chestand, a teaching artist with Young Chicago Authors, was the co-host of this year's Louder Than a Bomb finals competition. [Photo by Sebastian Lama]

By Dominique Chestand

It is kind and gentle,
loving of all things,
including Itself,
at first.

It knows Itself to be beautiful,
unafraid of the mirror,
or the bodies that mirror It.
ignorant of ugly,
of destruction,
of fear.

It is then told what is ugly.
what is perverted.
what is inside out.
what needs to be reversed.
even when reversal is impossible.

It mimics what It is not.
and fails every day.

to protect Its territory,
everything that is familiar,
It will bury itself.
burn Its skin.
crush the bone.

It will walk away uninhabited.
unfamiliar with Itself.
It will fear Itself.
It will maim any body
that smells of the meat
It has left behind.
It will dash the prey’s heart out.

And when It discovers
the beast It has become.
It will find Its own grave.
It will dig.
It will muddy together
Its own scraps.

or It will find a cavity to lie in.