- The Fortune Our Bodies Told, and: Teeth, and: I’m Not, and: Night Cream
- The Fortune Our Bodies Told
First, pattern: one whisper-thin hook of material threading to the next. Then, the clockwork
of a heart: a salt grain, an acorn, a fistful of red clay contracting and expanding
around each damp, unsteady hour. The blood, an army of ants, felt its way in the dark,
made cities from our ribs. Bless the slow, methodic way language finds us, draws each voice across
its strings. Our bodies told us they would leave, whispered it in aches and maladies, spoke it
in the sharp tongue of fears: heights, strangers, the dark with its mouth of shadow teeth.
Our bodies told us we wouldn’t know they were gone; after each bone dissolves,
a hundred more, they said. We didn’t listen. The snow was falling and we were giving everything names. [End Page 155]
Whalebone, pebble, ivory, chalk. Glyph meaning hunger,
mouthful, watch meuse my jaw as a knife.
✴ Wine turns each one into a red pagoda wet with drink. The stain
an earthly stain: porcelain full of scarlet pinholes without pins.
✴ In winter, a temple frozen in the center of a lake. A man takes
a crowbar, chips the Old Monk’s teeth from the ice. He knows
where to find them, how an incisor masquerades as air.
✴ Fish scale, cotton, hailstorm, stone. Our ancestors’ molars [End Page 156]
are buried in shale. My brother’s baby teeth rattle in a pillbox.
And somewhere, lips close around a cigarette, part, close again. [End Page 157]
- I’m Not
Not anymore, not hanging my head in the doorway, silhouette like ivy growing quiet over your walls. I’m not there, I’m not your varnished mannequin propped too close to the lit end of your cigarette, not your daughter. I’m not a canvas for you to spew your paint on, a drawing of a beast with your lips, your teeth, and no throat. I’m not midnight and smashed dishes, not a bruise you left on the earth. I’m not the snap of your belt, I’m not even Catholic anymore, I don’t even believe in Hell. I’m not you rearranged. I’m not outside in the snow because I can’t stand to sit in your house. I’m not the flesh of your flesh, the bone of your bone, the damned, not anymore. [End Page 158]
- Night Cream
after “Tiger Mask Ritual” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Rubbing it into my flesh, I feel nothing.
I smell its heavy whiteness— the soft, sterile promise
of beauty—and I want to absorb it past my crowfooted face into my skull. I want to think nothing, to know the folds in my brain
are tiny flaws on the flank of time. Invisible hands clutch
my facebones, leave warped fingerprints at the end of each lashline.
I can’t stand the idea of dying. Lab-extracted lavender
and collagen drain into each pore. I recognize the peeled-back wound
of my vanity, but I don’t care. Seeing my reflection is like falling
into a pile of my own bones. Outside, burning cedar swirls
from chimneys into moonless, charcoal sky.
I am blind and so is everyone else. [End Page 160]
Regina DiPerna received her MFA from the University of North Carolina–Wilmington. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, Boston Review, Cincinnati Review, Meridian and Redivider. In 2014 she was a poet-in-residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Residency. She currently lives and works in New York City.