Each X-ray Erases Me a Little More
Any chance you might be pregnant? When was the last time
you wanted to home against another girl’s throat and clavicle,
your mouth taut and mutinous with pearls? What is the name
for a girl who says she doesn’t feel attraction, who staves
her belly with powerlines punctured with birds calling
one minor key note over and over? Which arm would you like
me to use to draw blood today? How long have you been
a casket of steroid pills? Do you have a nice boyfriend? Do you
use birth control? May I ask why not? Is ace
one of those new things they’ve made up these days? What if you
meet the right man and change your mind? Can you
hold still so the technician can try again, please? Can you keep the cross
-hairs of the beam centered on your gut, please?
Are you sure the catheter hurts? Are you sure your gut pain
isn’t just because you’re on your period right now? You see the red
thread your piss like lead lining honey after the nearby cathedral
burned? Do you know how divided a meteor feels, ligatured blue
with flame up in the breathless cold of a million stars arriving
after their deaths? What’s your secret to losing weight?
How often have you found your stool dark lately?
Do you see how your intestine is so obstructed it loops your heart?
When you told your friend you were in hell, did you want
her to come sing you out by holding your tiny wrist, empty
as a halo? Do you know you’re in your prime childbearing years?
What if your husband wants kids? Do you know
when they cut you from your mother she briefly regained feeling
and had to try to wake her tongue, like a cicada under snow?
Do you know the sound a dozen hands make in the dark
kneading a mother’s belly back into place after the C-section,
of how your tongue is a scar that’s proof of the severing?
How many times did your mother teach you to demand
an epidural? How many times did she ask if you imagined kissing girls,
did you imagine lips locking as two people eating matches and silence?
Would you like your mother to draw you churched with morphine
again? What has already begun to nurse your marrow, bladed
with light? When you demanded everyone who love you leave the room
and looked at the NG tube taped to your face, did you call
your dilated pupil a mercury cradle, the hole carved in the shadow
of god that falls across the virgin? Did you call it failure
to tremble for the girl you love, or is that your name
for your ventricles that have learned the art of letting go?
When men running by you yell nice ass
do they know the prismatic dark that hungers down the center
of your eyes? The animal jaws you’ve faithed toward glass
saying love like such a desperate woman falling through your bones?
Elegy for My Mother
I’m sorry, mother, to write you as if you were dead
again. It’s only that I tried to imagine it—
your body on a table for me to prepare
your ashes in a jar for me to carry on my dashboard—
Instead, our hands stretched over the electric fence,
the nervous mares pushing their muzzles
into our palms.
Instead, your mother’s gold watch
stopped against your wrist, your hand
guiding ice chips to her mouth.
I’m sorry I’ve been such a hungry throat.
I’m sorry for the C-section scar.
Sorry to always be thinking of the coyote song
you listen to when you walk back alone
to your car at night, of when you wrapped the milk-mouthed kit
in a grease-stained towel. I’m trying to say
I want your arms always, I’m trying to say
that I imagine arranging your hair, your breasts,
your stretch-marked skin, and I thought
of the vulture I saw on the clifftop
swooping between me
and a blue horizon.
Maybe it’s how you cupped my hands
around the dragonfly
after we drowned it
to try to keep the color—how you painted
each faded blue spot back on, showing me
that sometimes the only way
we know how to keep something
is to kill it
so we don’t have to bear watching it
vanish one breath at a time without us