A year cracks itself open. Cells go awry. A song blooms
one trillion wet mouths.
The trees shudder. A statue bleeds
or cries blood.
An aster figures itself out — eats light, water, air,
I can say now is not always now,
sometimes it’s then.
Flour sifts itself into oblivion. Mother bakes sheep’s cheese
into layers of strangled wheat. She skins apples
as if they were delicate bodies. I bite
questions as if to consume.
Hours pass. Dumplings surrender
under breakable teeth.
What is it about the after
that makes us savor it?
Sister thins, then bloats.
Sister thins again.
Mother says, thank you, Jesus.
My head shrinks. My heart balloons.
A year cracks itself open.
Sister and I,
in the middle of the night,
under Father’s rusty fishing boat.
We paint our skin with chalk.
which is another way of saying
we’re leaving our bodies
somewhere we can’t find.
Mother collects bitten cabbages. She’s unbothered by holes.
I blacken with jealousy or
I do not want my smallness
to go unnoticed.
Mother doesn’t eat for days.
She keeps collecting food. It’s prayer. Her body
becomes god’s body.
Her body is made into light.
My body doesn’t know
how to let itself dissolve
A year cracks itself open. Sister and I hunt crawfish.
We use old can tabs, shoelaces meant
to hold closed the gate.
around our wrists. We fall into the water
where the ditch bloats with neighborhood muck.
We crack open shells of bodies the size of an infant’s heart.
I pray the end cracks open.
A timer goes off. An onion is dead.
I eat eggs the size of my daughter’s fists.
She asks. Her blood speaks,
but I still don’t know
what life is
or isn’t. I don’t know
what it is
behind the exactness of life
that I want to hold,
chew. I know
the moon is a polyp in the throat.
Entire years, I dream.
I dream my teeth turn to liquid. I leak milk memory. I dream pearls —
small, imperfect orbs. I dream
dewy insect larva. I dream
fractals and ancestors —
my own face close up
Mother holds a wooden spoon like a club. She holds it to her flank.
A fire burns steadily under a tall pot.
Mother beats tubers into a pulp. She tears out
tumors of memory — history
as we can’t remember it.
A question metastasizes —
who am I?
Who am I with dreams in my blood,
and who am I without these dreams,
without this blood?
Mother stirs in onions, fragrant heads,
what used to be a face. In the tall pot,
Sister glows white. My stomach turns into a heart.
It beats itself,
It waits. It wants.
Mother minces her wrists, tells us
the now is blood, drizzles it in, says, I’m not hungry.
Thank you, Jesus.
My arms are long, silver ladles. I’m clumsy and cold.
I wash Sister’s hair over a broken sink.
I wash until Sister’s hair falls out.
The soup bubbles over. It reeks. Heads of garlic and pigskin
erupt into humid air. A beast’s hooves gelatinize.
My sorrow thickens the atmosphere, sours it.
I unzip my face. My face is a mask. I unzip my mouth. My mouth
is under another mask.
I drool. I drip. I breathe into Sister’s mouth.
Sister’s throat opens like a crow’s beak. No call comes out.
My heart hardens. The masks harden.
I become what I am.
Sister’s trees shed bark. Darkness yellows at the edges.
My head disappears.
I want to say I hate this life,
but I can’t.
Sister’s head will fall off.
I break open
the last hour.
It turns into a lifetime.
One trillion wet mouths hum. A statue vomits. Mother won’t eat.
A moth melts black
in a pool full
of Sister’s hair.
Sister shakes. She turns milky blue.
The sink angles against us.
The trees snap. I eat every morsel of blue.
I eat to the point of nausea.
My stomach shrivels. My arms are heavy.
I dip them into the pot.
This is baptism —
I pour scalding soup over our bodies
until the pot empties.
then I die.
In an empty palace,
god drowns in our feral memories.
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