Ada Limón

I’m driving alone in the pre-dawn

dark to the airport, nerves nearly gone

when I fly now, gravity only another holy

thing to contend with, what pushes us

down squeezing out the body’s air.

The shock jock’s morning jawing clangs

in its exaggerated American male register

to tell us how the 24-year-old Colombian

woman whose breasts had been hacked

open and stuffed with one kilogram

of cocaine swiftly admitted the smuggled

property because she was in dire agony.

Wounds rupturing, raging infection,

she was rushed to the Berlin hospital.

Her three kids were home in her country

where she worked in agriculture, another

word for cultivation of land, for making

something out of dirt. The rude radio

disc jockey licks his lips into the studio’s mic

and says something about motor boating

her tits jammed with nose candy and I’m

thinking of my friend who’s considering

a mastectomy to stay alive, another who

said she’d cut them off herself if it meant

living. Passport and boots that slip on and off,

a sleepy stream through the radiation

machine. A passive pat down of my outline

and I’m heading somewhere else before

the world has even woken up. I’ve got shit

to do and I need to lose a little weight before

I turn older. There’s the email scan of the bank

statement showing barely enough, the IRS

check, the dentist that’ll have to wait until

payday next month. We do what we have

to do to not cleave the body too quickly.

I wait for my zone to be called and line

up with all the others, the woman’s voice

over the intercom’s buzz reminding us

the flight is full, reminding us to carry

only what we need. The chill rises

up in the jet bridge as does the tremor

in my chest as we board, this shiver of need

that moves my hand to my breastbone,

some small gesture of tenderness for this

masterpiece of anatomy I cling to.

about the author