Coal dark, but glowing
has your voice gone?
Your mouth coal dark
how is it that you
can still feel joy?
The moon sunk low
in the sky
a warning to us all,
a collective of tongues.
I plucked my eyes
from their sockets
and yet they still see
20/20 here, in the palm
of my hand. Your fingers
down my throat –
is this the gag reflex,
or am I choking?
My body stopped
speaking to me long ago.
The void screams back, the sound
of ten million women swallowing
their own tongues. Our throats like
vases, we narrow to contain the chasm
that has bottomed out within. Imagine
a life where the only thing asked of you
is to make yourself smaller. My boot
crunches on the gravel and I am reminded
of the vertebrae I’ve put my heel to in
order to be where I am today. The mirror
reflects and refracts. I have no true
understanding of who I am. The body aches
to burrow into the earth, the last act of
a dying animal, seeking comfort, seeking
warmth. There are no more soft hollows.
Let me decompose. One final act of sacrifice -
my waste will inherit the dirt. In the end,
I did what they want. Look: I am birth.
I have no pain I can call my own.
I am an empty vessel. What fills
me gives me worth. My back a
string of pearls. Knot, bead, knot.
How funny, the things we give value –
a grain of sand, covered in mucus
beautiful, wrapped around a long,
thin neck. I touch the hollow
between my collarbones, newly
aware of vulnerability. Soft tissue,
hard bones. An osteoporosis of the
soul. I call this segmentation.
Which parts can I prepare myself
to have sold? I put out a series
of hot coals with my silent tongue,
swallowing the ash, begging my body
to release this, to give the poison up.
Alexandra Smyth lives in Brooklyn, NY. She was a recipient of the 2014 Poets and Writers Amy Award, and the 2013 recipient of the Jerome Lowell Dejur Prize in Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Found Poetry Review, Rust + Moth, and Stirring, among others.