SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Exit 63, Mile Marker 61.8


The first time, teeth grind. My knees are
on holly leaves, scream
to the God:
I will breathe life into his dust
even if it means to scratch and peel
the layers of my forearm like onion skins.

I gnaw my raw lip.
I only stop when we drive away.
The next time, I carry crosses with my mother
and listen to repeated winds
of passing cars on the highway & the crush
of pinecones on the shoulder. We bear
with the whizz of screws into the crosses
pressed to the pine bark and the choked-up mutters
of the Our Father.
The most recent time, I watch the sunset while fingers freeze.
My lips taste lukewarm watery hot chocolate.
I pray even when God never fills
the chasm in my sternum.
I place my hand on the pine’s bark.
I breathe exhaust fumes like fresh air.


Nicole Markert is a Senior English Writing and Literature major at Eastern University in St. David’s Pennsylvania, although, she originally hails from New Jersey. She is the Editor-in-Chief for Eastern’s literary magazine, Inklings, as well as the Managing Editor for the student-led newspaper, The Waltonian. You can find some of her other work at nicolemarkert.com.

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