“Metaphors for My Body on the Examination Table”
The wasp burrowed fruit; The hunger
dispossessing where womb could have been; The field
fallow in every season; My stomach,
a mouth; The flood
of rotten teeth; The fearful sweat
of pregnant dream; The woman who never wanted a child
but still weeps at the stillborn of her body;
The way that hunger kicks & is a living thing;
The starvation carried in the stomach
like a child; The diagram of the procedure;
The body turned in on itself
like a bloody glove; The pill that births
this body into woman; The pill that murders
the potential of a child; The body hollowed
to a broken vessel; A field salting its own flesh;
The blood, rivered from inside of me
like afterbirth; The chest becoming rose
blossoms, sore as broken dirt; The needle,
dragging me like a cigarette;
The snake choking on its own body; The drowned man’s hand
-cuffs; The chrysalis strangling
the moth; The mother of ouroboros giving birth to herself
& herself & herself &; The lie of omission;
A fistful of seeds becoming teeth;
The grandchild never held; The first dead son
my mother does not bury.
My body as radix contritum. My body as transverse fracture. My body as dissection.
This waiting room in discount white. This host of bodies, distant in their completion.
The slow walk to an examination room disinfected by fluorescence. The echo of my cane.
The nurse’s eyes on my lips, red as infection. The lemon-sick scent of bleach that cuts through
even my bone-choked nose. This baseboard sprouting cracks like roots. Your nurse who calls
this body Sir. Your doctor who calls it Ma’am. Your doctor who mistakes my breathing
for sickness. Your doctor who lifts my shirt & loses my spine in the tight mangle of my back.
I am always first the crookedness of my body. Before nail polish—calloused palm.
Backless dress—a window to the choking of trees. In the cold of the examination
room, my fingernails bloom into wisteria. Memory of how slowly, gently, a flower choked
my childhood home. How removal could leave the building unable to stand.
She prescribes Estradiol, Spironolactone, offers something for the pain. The way my mother
whitewashed the porch. How she knew the structure was beyond repair & still
insisted on a graceful collapsing.
From Wound from the Mouth of a Wound by torrin a. greathouse. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions. Copyright © 2020 by torrin a. greathouse.