Pull out your teeth. So there are none
to dream about losing. Touch each other’s
fingernails because bones are made of that stuff too.
Glance at my breasts, otherwise it’s not
hot. Get me singing a prayer. This one’s not optional.
Cuz when the moon fills up, someone’s
gotta notice. Bring me a pillow. We will discuss
how to use something innocuous to kill.
Unspool a long string, so that we may hold on
to each end. Turn on the TV after I get in your bed
for the first time. Slip into your skin suit. I can unzip it
from the back. Just kidding. I guess you had
moderately good intentions. It’s been hard to fall
because I’m so low to the ground. What about this one:
skeletons look so small in museums, what’s
that about! I begin to place the pillow over my face
because you’ve finally left the room. I wanted
chocolate this whole time, and here I am now,
with a wish to be a ghost. Ha ha, ever transparent.
I didn’t expect to see Anxious Diva tonight. Not since I was
doing so well. She tells me about creases in time.
How to be in two places at once. How to leave your pain
in a different room of the house. The shortest distance between points
is bending over. Sometimes like origami, sometimes like pressing
your face so hard into a pillow. Waking up
with a wrinkle on your cheek— forget it, the abused already know
how the softest intention can leave a mark. I won’t
explain it, it just always seems to happen that way.
Take, for example, him, who shows up
just as unbelievably as Diva, throughout my day.
He isn’t really every man on the street, I’m not
stupid. I know that much. I see him everywhere
so often that when he’s here, in flesh,
he’s just another ghost. When I step into
the honey spotlight, there’s a beam on myself and
a ghost of a man. Lord, don’t make me write this.
Who wants to read about you, ghost man, as if they all
haven’t at some point anyway? Only me, Diva.
I’m ready to die now; apparition not speaking.
I hope my corpse turns to air, so as to
rinse everyone’s fingerprints off it. To erase my own, too.
I hope I lose this tongue. So my heart can speak for itself.
I’m still mad at you, Diva,
that you brought me here in front of this ghost man
and told me I was in control of who I give my love to.
Snaky Diva, liar Diva, give me back who I was before
I gave myself up to a blank man inside and out.
Who showed me what it means to yearn for
six whole calendar years, crossing out every day
that time passed, that he never came for me,
came to place his hand on me like a preacher
and say I am sorry I hurt you here, then place his hand
on me like a lover and say I am sorry I hurt you here.
He showed me what it means to be
freeze dried, a woman of history, as all women are,
waiting for their work to be paid off. Diva, you left me alone
with him to watch myself become soft in his arms
against all sensibility. I was so ripe I did not see myself
begin to rot, and that is where you need to apologize.
Who says sorry first? Who is more sorry, the empty hermit shell?
Or the hijacked car, sputtering its way to the ocean parking lot?
Leave me alone, do you know what that means?
Budding the rose. I can’t stand anticipation,
throat clenched like a pit bull. Did you know
that red velvet cake is just chocolate dyed red?
One of Anxious Diva’s creations. Okay, you got me,
I’m stalling. I don’t want to talk about it. Do you?
The sleepless daylight, burnt past my eyelids
like developer forcing the image darker, like a sunspot:
his nervous hands. Clenched. Unsure. No matter
how much I stare at them, they don’t come unwoven.
To my surprise. To my undelight. There are lots of
images like sandpaper across my skull. Of birds
congregated outside a bar. A firetruck backing into
an intersection. A boulevard house, and in its window,
a handwritten “for sale” sign. Fuck memory.
Diva told me the number one cause of amnesia is
heartbreak. I never believe her but now I do.
How else do you explain your ghosts, erect, dubious?
How else then to continue, knowing only
the suture, knowing nothing of the wound.
Hannah Kucharzak is a poet and visual artist from Chicago. Her poems have been published most recently, or are forthcoming, in The Louder Coalition, Vagabond City, TYPO, Requited, Pleiades, and Pinwheel. Hannah is anthologized in Civil Coping Mechanisms' A SHADOW MAP: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (2017). She is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Award and the Luminarts Award for Creative Writing.