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  • Finochietto, or Rib Spreader, and: When he says that I have beautiful skin, and: Most Women Report Some Decrease in Sexual Function, and: Oophorectomy, and: You Will Be Ready/Total Hysterectomy
  • Lynne Ellis (bio)

Finochietto, or Rib Spreader

The word sounds like an implementfor Italian agriculture: a maw        in the soil with a router blade tongue

        that stirs up clumps and clods, littlerocks or chewed-up roots and worms.In a pinch it could ensure chaste space

        between two bodies at a dance.        The device itself has two arms,a gear, a toothy bar, a lever.

The blade depth is important—        measurements are listed in the spec.        It opens up the chest to look

at golden mites, clustered in the dirtunder January-blooming hellebores.        Insects scatter liquid legs, under-over,

        as little bodies panic, zip away.The spreader will be used this way:Your doctor will make a butterfly incision

        in the skin above your breastbone,        insert blades inside the cut,nestle steel in your ribs.

Your doctor will turn a lever        to blossom you wide open—        yawning, narcotic, a poppy. [End Page 11]

With acknowledgment of the inspiration provided by Erika Brumett's "Cunnilingus," originally published in the North American Review and reprinted in her collection Bonehouse (Green Linden Press). [End Page 12]

When he says that I have beautiful skin

        I want to make him

dig his fingertips        into all my healed splits—

the cleft in my lip (where teeth        broke through) my hardened

plate-held jaw (obliterated        by a car window)

the horseshoe knee scar (from        a childhood fall)

I want to prove him wrong        I want him

to brush the feather smudges        on my Achilles

and press the two        hummingbird beak indents

on my left breast (biopsy        divots) the parted skin

around them hardening        to barley or stone [End Page 13]

Most Women Report Some Decrease in Sexual Function

My surgeon sayssex will be different.I don't know what to do with this.I lose interestin keeping my fingernails trimmed.In vacuuming.The house fillswith dirt—first dustthen loam soil—inches deep. Dandelionstake the living room, purslane runsits weed knees across the office. I swallowa floorful of red clover. Each flower crownbleeds a little dye, stainsmy lips gold. Vines thickenon my bedframe—morningglory—purple bloomsI pick and eat whole.Datura opens in the bath. I eat that too.Then dreams of desert. Dry heat. Sweat. Sexwill be different,my surgeon says. [End Page 14]


From the Latin oophoron, which could be an exoplanetout near Tau Ceti, ready for contact. What ceremonyfor their cosmonauts, on launch day? Imagine interstellarcostumes, gravitas, navigation instruments glowing blue.But why choose Earth, why invade our hydrate human forms,why seed my body with this genetic beast? Was I, a child,given too much luck, too much curiosity? A bookwormenvoy, ten years old, mind full of UFOs, I welcomed theminto my room in my clandestine way—sleepy, scared, willing.When they placed twin cyan lights into my middle abdomen,they held my guts to theirs. Dozens of hands. For thirty yearsthe blood each month, the limelight pain, extrinsic tentaclesinside me. No universal being ever came. No powerbut voltage for two beacons, still blinking steady across space. [End Page 15]

You Will Be Ready/Total Hysterectomy

There will be days in this medical experiencewhen you feel like you're the only citizenof Pluto, landed right in the cardioid curveof its dry sea, as every spacecraft from Earthskips you and passes, off to photographsome other beauty object. Even the Voyagerships, with their golden records, will ignoreyour out-there underworld.The Sounds of Earth does not containthe tin scrap music of the MRI machine,or the ::thwick:: of the spring-retracting blood-draw needle, and though The Soundsof BRCA1 is imprinted with these noises,you will also hear kinder human voices:laughter as it fills the vinyl flooringand technicians willing to talk about anything.When it's time, you will be readyto release the loneliest parts of your...