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As Body

The girl is thin and quiet and wise. She learned to love you

from her mother. They rocked on the embroidered chair

and when snow fell she tucked her pants into her socks. She

smelled her hair and kissed her eyebrow and whispered nothing

like it was song.

The girl would fit her body, scalp to toes, in the porcelain walls of

a moldy bathtub. Her hair would slide down her skin and tuck away

in the drain. These days I carve away the urge to sit inside and press

my fingers against the cracks, exhale dust and fill them with broth

and honey, like my mother would.

My body is bigger and hurts like a woman. These days I wake

with your eyes, hungry and reeling for flesh like it doesn’t yearn, like it

doesn’t seek. The girl slips away and I grip her with breaking fingers

and she screams off like a train. You hold my thigh with a thought

and I realize you love me as body.

What a small life lived in this bathtub, so small I bend my knees now.

Mom leaves a glass of wine and a towel outside the door and taps her

knuckles against the wood. My finger pads prune and water grows cool and

low. When I sleep my body will be cold and naked and curled around itself

like a seedling, rolled and drooping and breathing.

And it loves me as it were my mother.

It loves me as I were a child.