All that You Can’t Have
A spined will, angles always in our face,
he towers over us. We, of the duller teeth,
are petrified of his centipede-scuttle and tart
tongue. Mr. Morelock comes to Plum Cove
once a year to collect: payments or pledges, bottles
of imported rum, not-quite-complimentary breakfasts.
He hibernates in his mansion, only to descend
when he feels ravenous. Rumors are he has
a favorite. Rumors are Betsy has seen
his caved-in chest. How little heat emanates
from that hollow. Rumors are his nails are razored
to slice through impertinent cheeks, though his hands
are slim and peach-soft. Rumors are you can’t hear
his shadow descend. A tap at our back. We freeze
as he purrs her name and she says no to his face,
as her form shivers and shrinks. Hold our breath
as his ashen exterior creeps red,
and the whole town goes snow-silent.
When she first appears, my body shuts down,
my heart beans my sternum. She waits.
Quiet. As she inhales, she draws my pulse
to a song and suddenly, I am smitten.
Wonder how it is she found me. Every day
she visits, waits with my heart in a jar. A leash of foxes
stream past her feet. No one cries. No one
needs to. But this time, her hair is darker, dirtier,
like my hair darker, dirtier. She reads tea leaves,
rolls her eyes. Aloof. Nothing I do makes her happy.
Around the edge of the house, creeps darkness.
I cannot let snakes slide in. But they do, puncturing
my navel, leeching poison. Why would someone
like her love me? This silence is her challenge.
It gets bigger, absorbs crows, muting the sky.
Under rocks, I find vowels, consonants hiding.
String words together to let the doubt out. Flutter
branches. Raise my spine. And this time, she seeks
my shoulder, warms to my comfort. Hand in hand,
we walk through my deserted neighborhood. Each house
watching with grey-smoked windows. Each house
a mirror of another, like us.
This room holds my hypothesis, data. Chalkboard
numbers depict my nature, how it shaped
to its present curve. Ridges of scars, a spare bone
in my back pocket. New organs constructed,
floating in jars, honeyed and rubied. And then, I find
his harried notes outlining uses for me. I am wursted –
piecemeal construction of tissues, redrawn platelets
and something he can’t tabulate. Behind me,
a lock clicks. My neck straightens, cracking my jaw.
The doctor’s face is blank – watching his uncaged animal.
Does he know the horrors below my surface? His scalpel
hands shake. He asks why I’m here. My hair falls
out in patches. Sometimes my muscles snap, curl up under
my skin. My memories rift into waking nightmares.
This body wants to shed me. He explains the big picture,
breath, blue sky. What his study will prove – broken
glass in my joints as I move. His gift. All I see
is snapped. & I want to watch his teeth go crack.