In one version of that year everyone was brittle
worried about relevance and critical /
intervention. And in the other version flies died
in the bathtub tho it was winter / the bathtub
pinkish with iron and loose with wings or
a plague of rocks came out of /
It was twenty below. I probably agreed to be /
Nadja / my liver swelled with love, but there wasn't
for either of us / the floor was sticky.
The floor, flies, past times sticky floors,
sticky and sticking the glue babies one makes
by rubbing her hands briskly and brisker
they whisper, white as dry white skin on the sheets
bleached daily / taking pains / to bleeeee
Following a hospital! leg wound my head opened,
through the fat layer, my bone, my sleeper cell went off,
a young girl with a new cavity fevered on a gurney /
I saw her /
What was different?
I could identify the relevant vectors.
We don't / love each other / my wire mother, screw aunties,
wire veins, the wire that runs from tear duct to ear.
A vibration to keep me fluid until. I don't know
/ when. The year begins / to count again. I'm not dying
very quickly / the earth burns my tongue. I pry it apart again.
Maybe I did die. From this wound. A wire bandage
mother goes around calling my name / frostwhite
like it's hers in her mouth. I probably won't / see you again.
It is easy to be nice to someone who isn't me,
anyone / who isn't me. Possum-tooth moon
cutting in line to heap syrups into that
pure white cask / bored red spout.
It is easy to be nice to an empty cross
crossroads all four of its devils out
in which it is easy to mistake blood for affection
plenty fleshy skirts and manes. taken furry. This isn't /
for a very long time unless an accident befell me
Impatient to be ratified a skin crawls across your rims, a wound closes
Another patient whose thigh measures
the same length as mine whose hips fit discreetly
in the cradle of mine whose shoulders form the cape of mine
whose mine is depth of mine exact / and whose tomb
is locked and sealed and lost. Whose blood flows backward
whose head falls off as he rides, whose intentions release
the centaur beneath him while his hand steadies the bow.
Whose bow is my mouth neatly knit
who never saw my bow untied or my youth / my youths
centaurs passing beneath me, so often bucked did I care?
Irrelevant. Everything I shove behind the shelf
including another patient whose hand I had to look from
it bloomed in mine rare pungent fibers / bloom once,
what do I care. Bloom once and behead.
Did I think I would brave behold it? I'm vain, not foolish.
I'm dickless, I'm pond scum unreflected. What becomes
of me but an echo of you? If I were snatched
from the sky, it’s more than was writ for me. All justice
is lost in the small chasm between knowing and doing.
Regret is for men. For hospital, for temperatures
for the day in your diary always marked with
its frayed wet red ribbon / as tho marking might undo.
You never gave me a thing, so why give me that?
What if instead like Christo we built an actual tin can line?
What if like a silk sheet my voice were always brushing the line,
dingier and more ragged with passage. Dingier unspun
back to the threads, back to the cocoon, until opened
the worm backed out with her brow knit and her whiteness
a scar on the mulberry. What if I were a scar in your tree
and also the only leaf you could eat? That’s not much
to ask / now is it / the moonrise or the sunrise or something
balefully diurnal else that wigs you back into normalcy?
Like an impoverished prophet who limped for real and so
made of the limp an extravagant gesture:
O fuck you rose on
my horizon brighter than
the previous fuck
When I became alive again I couldn’t help who woke / she wasn’t
strong or likeable. She wasn’t in a cast nor sawed
free from her cast. The cast has value and its innards no mouth
so anyone who speaks from the ruin becomes a bird
who has no tongue / she substitutes a worm for her tongue.
Danielle Pafunda’s eight books include The Dead Girls Speak in Unison (Bloof Books), Natural History Rape Museum (Bloof Books), and the forthcoming Beshrew (Dusie Press) and The Book of Scab (Ricochet Editions). She sits on the Board of Directors of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and lives and teaches in the Mojave.