Carrie Olivia Adams | Poetry

When Your Body is Another Stranger: A Poem

                                                     IV. A WILLING HOSTAGE
To say “will you?” and to speak of “my will” is different, those wills like distant cousins. 

And so it is to say—will you play hostess to your hostage?

There was an inviting in; but then one lost sight of the door.

She can make a blindfold of her hands.

She recalls the dream of being someone else’s dream. Waking up, crying, and repeating—I am not real. She doesn’t like living. But the thought that everything that she had taken seriously was less than condensation on a glass …

There are addictions. Like storytelling. And compulsive habits like retreat. There is remembering, 
like chewing on your lip.

The gag can be your tongue, thick and limp with its own ineffectiveness.
To say she thinks the wall is slipping by a new crack every week or so to say 
that the wall may fall into the yard or the neighbor’s yard or house— 

She came home and another window was broken.

She came home one step faster than yesterday. 
To say that the threshold is creeping towards the sidewalk—

The foundation has threshed the threshold.

They kept walking in circles on one soft spot on the floor. 
“Do you feel how it sinks here, here?”

She mistook an earthquake for the roof collapsing, sliding off under the weight of the snow. 

She can’t keep the outside from coming in—
The blizzard that built an avalanche in the anteroom. The ants that colonized the window sill. 

To say that she riddled and had been riddled and felt the riddling wither and winter.

And sleep came upon her. She was lying there, yes. But still, it covered her mouth and gagged her. Her arm was held above her head until she nearly forgot it and had to pick the limp, dead thing up. She shook the foreign limb until it became hers again. All the while, eyes closed, a babel logic whispered to her. It made so much sense until she tried to repeat it. Claustrophobia, this other language closing in. And sleep again came upon her.

Take the slow burn of skin
in the sun and rub it against the sear
of skin on the stove. 

Scars keep finding her.

The cicatrix of a sickness of insatiability.

Make a church

with your  hands that destroy / s


the moment you touch her.

As the razor blade
raked itself across the raised  skin
dread / not

A city of helicopters and the noise of fighting the wind.

The slur
and the privilege.
The body is a name she’s given it.
She was so quiet there.

She learned a new kind of shyness, one that is bold but speechless out of necessity. Complicit with dumbness, concrete.
In this machine
to be surrounded by so many words
to recognize only  sounds.

Her freedom in not knowing what she  has been asked.

She was told about this thing with wings
inside her 
like breath. 
A bird there
like panic, like frenzy.
She could look down and see it move.

Even in an anatomical theater,
she can’t tell pity from love sometimes.

It's the same urge.
Here. Take.
If it will help.

She is among the anonymous ones 
in that squeeze box,
that breath machine 
that is a body machine 
that is a city of ventricles 
a city of vertical bones
a theater of bare legs and torsos 
a tossed and lethargic
attempt to remember.

Posted in: Arts + Culture

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