by Kay Ulanday Barrett

since my body

since my body

i am no wooden doorframe
watching you walk away again.

i am dwelling on lumbered
voice, octaves trying to carve out a
full night of sleep.

can i write that poem?
(propping up metaphors to disconnect the skin cells)
can i write that poem?
the quiet, hold still- the i am
trembling, stop it, no no- or

do I count on the ceiling
to keep me from screaming out of this room?

this is not sound byte comfort to a survivor
or a diligent response to your alcohol
breath and suctioned hands:
lover gone bad,
lover does not punch but–,
lover circles a body closer closer until it drains,
lover demand demand demands until empty,

i want to warn the rest.
tell them
your hands are malice and have the
coldness of x’s.

your hands erase.

i now hate my bed.

turning my belly to the mattress,
i wonder if i had not the spine,
where would the rest of me be?

your hands would
have taken me apart / your tongue a shelf,
packing the arms / the thighs /
the obtuse of my
ear /
for re-occurring nightmares

and when do i let myself alive again?
after a new girl kisses my forehead?
will she bathe me her armskin, take her hands and
place them on cheek,
let me take the lead?

will i push until intimacy walks out on me?
until all i am left with are my own hands
and lofty deep sounds? until i massage out
the welts you left with coffee at 2am and
another poem that will never be read aloud?

do you think that i am made of vacant corners?
am i not supposed to
open up my sunken heart? not
for the life in me dare another woman
on these collarbones?

you do not mark that easy.
no territory of my map has your lines clearly drawn.
my dirt, my growing, my mass, my direction
my daring, my breathtaking
were never yours.

the colonizer in you,
the arrogance in you
that claims that:
this was nothing at all,

is questioning at night.
is lampshade light monitoring the folds of the hand.
is sick of every movement
since my body.