Silver dash. A flickering, unforked tongue
seeking its end somewhere under my skin,
gliding easily between the borders of cells. A little refugee
pulls thread behind her, like driving pickup trucks
full of the brown and bruised sliding unseen
into country somewhere south of El Paso. The thread
is black, cheap, and worsted under twilight,
a broken-edged creation wrought in blindness.
Long chrome tooth, lanky and lean,
diving in and out of me. She leaves long trails
of black knots wrapped around strangled skin wherever she goes.
She waits for my skin to split open, to leap and dive
from fallow bands bordering a new red river: another tear, another
new tributary. I grow these red jagged lines
in my sleep, but bleeding is too expensive: it’s her job
to keep me stitched up. I cannot afford to
split lines down my sides, shedding my stuffing,
leaking and loosing life in little tsunamis
into our bed with coiled, foam-capped teeth.
Look at me. I am a map. I have railroad lines,
zipped black teeth that cover five hundred miles of country
easy. Look at the graceful s-curve embossed
into my left shoulder, the straight line love
splitting me into from my navel to my
breastbone. My left leg’s been stitched back on
at least three times, the scars now a trio of
whispering trajectory curves from pubis to gluteus,
tracing their flights around my boy-toned hips. And
see the little indentations, the bite marks
circling my right wrist: that is from where
I lost my right hand back in ’94. It was reconnected
ten years later – but sometimes the fingers don’t move,
the knuckles don’t shout and flex,
and my pen lies limp.
This is the cheap way of living.
You close exits. You sew up tears.
You swallow blue lumps. You
shove oceans under your tongue until they turn to acid
to prevent their escapes. You
learn to love ratty old black thread and
sharp chrome slivered pain because
you cannot find gloved hands, a clean room, or
a masked stranger wearing antiseptic green to
repair you. You buy more black thread
with footsteps like coins, your bare feet in flight
blurred together, heartbeats that forget to touch
the ground. The shortest distance between two points
is not a straight line: it is how
you pinch the length of time between them shut
with your endless running. Problem is,
no one ever tells you that you gain those coins
by trading in your own breath.
© 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem was written for WWP Prompt #10: Object Poems. Mallery instructed us to write a poem concerning an object: look at it from multiple angles, consider how it feels and tastes, its use, its shape, and so forth. I went a little beyond the object itself, which as you know from the title is a needle and thread. I hope you enjoyed reading this poem.