Back to Room 109
Do not send me back – back to where I cannot breathe.
I hug my arms around me the best I can manage, the edges of the classroom
shaving the tip of my elbow, across my forearm, and down my knuckles.
Do not send me back – back to where you broke me.
I lay my head down, and I know you are you the one pounding it in to
make it fit. Your beatings reverberate through my skull, echoes startling
muddy avalanches of thoughts – ones that rhyme with the time I crossed your
border to touch your hand, so I would always know what it felt like, even if
I never got to hold it, and others ones that our small piece of borrowed
humanity saturated with Bunsen burners and Christmas ornaments and
unasked questions and every memory that we could have created, but you left
the stage too soon – that go dripping out from underneath my eyes.
Do not send me back to where they told me what you had decided.
You have to scrunch me up to fit me in, like a carelessly folded sheet of
paper, pinching my shoulders together, making my chest a cave – a sad
hole – and my lungs into compact sponges, shoved into the back corner of
And you decided wrong, friend. You decided wrong.
I have to bend at the waist and knees – and at the middles of my calves
and thighs – even my ankles and the tops of my toes have no haven.
Do not send me back to the room where they told me you had died.
Back to room 109.
You pick my head back up just to push it into my neck until my neck is ready
to bounce like an accordion – like a poor Jack-in-the-box, soggy red and
pokey from the gnarly edges of snapped ribs and cracked tibias and the
Tell me, friend. Is that how you like me?
So do not send me back. It is not my fault you decided wrong.
I use old shards of bark and thin twigs for digging
to bury my tired bones
in shallow graves.
I need moments alone to the push the dry dirt aside
before laying my feet
One rough tug – and they pop off, a warmness
soaking the dust. Freeing itself from
these bitter walls.
Calves. Knees. Thighs. Cries go
I lose the bark and twigs like scattered, old life jackets
that go limp. And worn
I cling to the roots of a nearby tree like I cling to a moment
of breath – of healing –
but my fingers slip.
Pelvis – hips – creeping up my torso – my vertebrae loosen
and fall away
like coins in a puddle.
But slower – slower – like quick sand, but it is only dust
soaked in blood and sweat.
My dust. Sinking.
But faster – faster than this afterthought –
this unrequited last glance
deep mire – the clay of my bones.
When did we begin to die?
When did it reach my neck?
My chest pains – the pressure from the Earth
tightening, grappling my lungs –
I choke –
My ribs – fracturing – cracking – pieces –
chipping – and then my heart.
The chipped bones puncture my weak,
And I can feel its sadness.
When – in all of this prosperity, while
the tree nearby is still blooming yellow
and the grass does not have walls and
the shells do not harbor lead but pearls –
when did we begin to want to die?
I melt and mingle in the mire. My fingertips go.
Without a print left.