I. When the department presses Record, I watch tape chase its own tail. I watch my mother put her fists to her face. I watch glass break and scatter, as if the shards are scheming to separate from one another. I learn to scrub, wash, and launder. I learn to lie. I learn to treat myself like a specimen, envision shoving my breasts and hips underneath a microscope slide.
II. I watch it more than feel it. You are driving and then there is the sudden thrust of your arm across my stomach. It is a sash of flesh, a sash of impact. The truck jolt, the road before us shuddering in its frame. I watch as the world rights itself and cars zip by us like beads on an abacus. I wonder if we could have died and decided it’d be fine if you came along with me.
III. My mother tells me I have lost all feeling. I place a hand to the base of her spine, then one above that one. I meet a man and leave him. Each time we made contact, his hand would flit back so quickly. It was because of cold. In my dreams I am an ice queen. Snow crawls across the lines of my eyelashes. My face is chalked with frost. My breath is a translucent gauze without any sunlight peeking through.
IV. You tell me I am a sinner and that is why my lungs are black. Yet I have yet to inhale smoke or take anything in. My palms are obsidian carvings, still glistening from baptism. I spend much time praying for death. On each storm’s precipice I smell petrichor. Lightning scratches gilded nails across the sky. I can see the ark bobbing on the water. And I want to be the first thing going down the drain.
V. So I begin running. I leave the shelf in the wall you have carved for my head. The enamel on my teeth is darkening until I wake and realize I wear none of the clothes you bought me. I amass lovers, their bloody tongue-kisses, the whirlpools of their bodies. I wave a hand above the hurricane. Come on, I beg over and over. I don’t want to have to be a bird anymore.