He complimented me
on my back, my shoulders,
told me, you have the frame of a bird—
all delicate & fragile.
After making love, he fingertip-traced
from neck to collarbone, dipped into hollows
between flesh & bone,
said he wanted to be Picasso, make me
his masterpiece. Blushing,
I smiled & giggled.
I knew little about Picasso, except his figures
were distorted, parts painted in odd places—
disfigured & broken.
His gentle touches became gouges,
compliments snapped to corrections, Eat
only fruits & vegetables.
Wrap up in cellophane, sweat your structure out.
He said I’d be beautiful, once he carved me down—
all bone & no meat.
I allowed him to dream his delusion of me,
let him probe the tiny spaces
between rib & vertebrae.
He left bruises with every I love you,
to disrobe & stand
before him. Told me to expel the air from my lungs,
make my skeleton emerge. He pressed
his thumbs & fingers
hard into my hips’ flesh, pushed forth
my pelvis. When I complained,
Beauty & pain
are the same, dear!
When I am done,
you will hurt, beautifully.
How to Build a Poet
fillet away all ligaments—
silvery and tough— debone flesh
for tenderness and ease of chew.
Unbutton each rib individually,
have church with every organ,
commune of body and blood.
Tithe in muscle mass and skeleton,
chop away cartilage until blind,
pull nails from beds, enjoy the bloody
separation. Scrape cells from mouth, smear
them on slides, view their beginning in strands.
Use them to spark the remembrance of structure,
study the connective tissue, bathe it in sun. Rearrange
its boney pews, raise them like chapel beams, rebuild,
despite gravity, and regrow solid, from the rafters up.
(Author photo by Levi Williams)