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FORMALITY


Poems inspired by various artworks of the 1700-1900's

I carved that comb from my left femur. 


You'll notice it's black.



All my bones are black.


Burnt to a crisp; sticky with simmered blood and caked with what is left of the muscle mass that once moved me toward her.

I gifted her the comb after we danced in the dark on her twenty-second Carried Over Day. My veins, voltaic, sent smoke signals through my pores. I told her she was beautiful and she never said thank you, because she knew it was not something she earned or possessed or cherished.

She simply accepted the gift and the curse that came with it.

Louis Anquetin - Woman Combing Her Hair (1889)

Adeline Albright Wigand - Woman Reading a Letter (1910)

I remove my eyes and put them in their respective container to soak for the night. It is all part of the mundane routine I've become accustomed to. 



Night after night.



Gargle. Rinse. Repeat.

Shift. Swipe. Like.



Night. 

I remove my lips and wrap them so they don't dry out. I fold my ears in so they collapse into my skull and don't disrupt my sleep. Lastly, I release my skin and let it sink to the floor before crawling into bed.

I will wake up in a test tube, if I'm lucky.

William Etty - Hero, Having Thrown herself from the Tower at the Sight of Leander Drowned, Dies on his Body (1829)

I look down and watch his body as it is pushed and pulled by the soft-approaching tide. I've trapped hundreds of insects in my mouth as I wait for him to stand, as I wait for him to blink. I want him to wake and ask me what it tastes like.

And when he does, when he does ask me this, I will laugh, and that will be a good enough answer.



I've been watching him for hours.


One by one I swallow the insects; the ones that haven't already found their way to my belly. 

My body hums. My insides bear life.


 I call myself "Mother".


The edge. The tree on the edge. The tree with every kind of branch you could dream of. I've wrapped my hair around the each one of these branches and swung myself to sleep as a lonely child. The willow branch made me forgetful when it came to matters of the heart, the plum branch gave me the air of someone regal but deceptive, and the oak branch cured my headaches.

My abdomen pulsing with activity, I effortlessly reach up to tie my hair around the neglected olive branch near the very top. 

My hair is tied, the sun is rising; I lower myself down and swing gently in the breeze. Our bodies sync to the give and take of our surroundings. 

That gentle pushing and pulling of the water and the wind.

The olive branch breaks yet I hover in place. My children keep me afloat and I am not afraid of anything anymore. As the sun continues to rise, they agree it is time for sleep.

I am lowered from the top of the tree, past the cliff, down to the beach and laid across his chest. I am comfortable here. I will stay here forever. I close my eyes and with my last breath, so goes every mite, locust, mantis and moth.

This morning I took a big, deep breath through my big, capable lungs and soon I'll stand on my long, functioning legs and stretch to shake off my comfortably-catered sleep.

“I am lucky” I think. 

 

I am happy. 

 

I think.

Charles Robinson - The Lark (1900-1930)