The Shadows of the Body

My father came home
With a stack of X-ray films.
He went into his office and put them
Up, one-by-one,
In front of the light.
I sat behind,
Unnecessary,
And watched as the light formed
Bones and stomachs and necks.
Puzzle pieces glowing.
He called me over,
Look at this
Kid
He swallowed a coin.
See?
And there I saw a shekel –
Small circular shadow in the light.
But you wouldn’t know the currency
From the image.
I gaped as I imagined,
Which of my classmates was this?
My world was confined to my kindergarten.
If anything happened,
It must have been there.
A war, a holiday, a storm,
Confined to my nap-room.

Last week my father sat in his office,
In front of the computer screen
Glowing with bones and stomachs and necks.
He called me down to see,
Look at this
Woman
She swallowed a butter knife.
See?
And there I saw, with clear-cut precision,
The long shadow in the light.
But you wouldn’t know her reasons
From the image.
I gaped as I imagined
What that must have felt like.
What thoughts led her to this,
What fears.
A war, a holiday, a storm,
Confined to her mind.

/michal

Renting Myself

Have I fallen apart?
I wonder alone, out loud
When I see a reflection
Looking tough
(Not tough
Like a hero,
But tough,
Like overcooked meat.)
Too much heat
Too many thoughts
Too many people

(I haven’t checked in
With myself)
I am a squatter
In my own life
Remaining without rent
Without focus
(Without myself)

Me but hardly me

/michal

Remedies

On our last night you asked me
What I didn’t like about my body.
I got frustrated
(Too many things to list)
Why would anyone ask that?

You wanted to kiss all the parts
I didn’t like
Until I would like them.

So I named a few parts
And you put your head under the sheets
And kissed them until I fell asleep.

Today I want to tell you
Which parts I don’t like
(The parts my father pointed out to me)
But you aren’t here to kiss me any longer.
(Let me heal myself)

/michal

These days

I am afraid when the chords of a song
stir my scattered feelings as they sweep along
into a faint memory of a joy
that even reality can’t quite destroy
and I realize the time it’s called forth is long lost,
that for feeling this glow there must now be a cost,
but I can’t stall my thoughts, try as hard as I might,
my smile a cheap remnant to which I’ve no right.

I’m afraid when I lay down to rest come night,
to see muddles of faces, hands reaching, eyes bright,
hear a roar that could be as dumbly benign
as empty white static, or could be a sign
of the dawn of an all-too-human storm –
and that’s when the worries begin to swarm.
Which do I hear? Well, I can’t really say;
depends on the weather, depends on the day.

I’m afraid that I cling to the masks we display
not out of trust, but to keep well at bay
thoughts of the future, of life’s breadth and speed
for as long as I still claim to know what I need.
I’m afraid when I open my mouth to speak,
feel the pressure of all I’d say, were I less weak;
see it dancing, unborn – flying leaps, landings sore –
done pretending it’s weightless, it pounds freedom’s door.

I’m afraid to lock eyes with people I know;
if things were this different, would they tell me so?
My mind and my stomach pull cartwheels in sync;
my eyes pealed for doubt, I can feel my voice shrink.
See, I fear most of all that you’ll throw me a rope,
that for the first time I will let myself hope,
that you’ll say to see, I can’t dread being seen,
and that I’ll leave my limbo for life’s in-between.

/cristina