coughing up blood
He clamors into the waiting room, cradling his left lung in a dinner napkin. Coughing for two weeks—
just spit blood. I gather it up
in a gray fan file, placing it in the rack behind a scissored heart.
I am a steward of viscera.
When it’s his turn, I listen
with my stethoscope. He’ll need antibiotics but not likely a shot, which pleases him,
given his fear of needles. Before I hand it back he pays the clerk a slice of liver
and three fingernails.
WHEN THE LINES WENT FLAT
This song is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness…
(Brigit Pegeen Kelly)
she came untethered,
skin beneath a salt-stained sky.
Nurses tend like tailors, tying off tiny knots—
braid her hair—
petal her bones.
The moon, a rusted nail through an iron gate.
There is a woman with opal eyes
dangling her heart from a latched rail—
absent of root.
We are all treeless.
BECAUSE THE EYELET
ripped clean through the fabric.
Because I slipped off my dress and tore a seam
in my hip.
Because I unfastened my torso,
crept into the river
Because the line that bends the sun is just a myth.
Because there is no edge.
A TIDING OF MAGPIES
We carry needles full of sleep,
flocked in black,
hoarding everything shiny and sharp
so she can’t hurt herself—
she split the air
on a rolling cot—
because the hackberry is bleeding,
and spider wasps are spilling from the sun.