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HEMOPTYSIS

                        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,

milkweed

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. 

Listen.

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

and unraveled.

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

                                                            like birdshot—

cackling

on a rolling cot—           

                                                                        limbs tethered—

because the hackberry is bleeding,

                                    and spider wasps are spilling from the sun.