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May 9, 2017 | Poetry

Three Poems

Chloe N. Clark

Three Poems photo

 Little Skin Teeth

On Wednesday, I find my teeth
have sharpened over the night
It’s a strange thing to get used
to:  have to stop running

my tongue over the points

My lover gets nervous,
says “whoa, whoa, you
know what this could make
really difficult”
and he looks scared

still he feeds me fruit,
in bed, tenderly
for breakfast—my
fangs press into pawpaw
flesh, custard sweet

and delicate
That night, my lover sleeps with back
turned, bodies at rest
look as inviting as the sea

My skin is  toughening, I can feel it
embracing me

I’ve heard that sharks
skin is like this: strong,
“dermal denticles”

On Thursday morning, my love
peels back the blankets
to study my body in the half
light of morning

He says “look at my teeth”
and his fangs are like slivers
of light drawing the dark
from the room

I wonder if we will swim
through the air, if we will
have to keep going forward
or if we will be allowed this
moment—

silence in our bedroom
as we learn how to shape
ourselves to new forms


Nociception

In the doctor’s office, my body
stretched wary on table

they take pulse, press into flesh,
say “tell me if it hurts yet”

and once when I was young,
I snapped,
                       with a popping sound like popcorn kernels in booming speaker,
my Achilles’ tendon
and the doctor said.
“you should be crying,
grown men cry from this,
why aren’t you crying”

pain has always hit me
like a pillow fort tumbling
onto my sleeping body

when the doctor points
to chart from No Pain
to Worst Imaginable Pain

                   pictured as a series of smiling faces whose upturned lips slowly collapse into grimace
I don’t know how to chart
the feelings underneath my skin

I wonder how we learn
to talk about aching
when all of us speak
with different tongues

                   sharp and stabbing and dull and throbbing
hoping that someone can translate our
pain back to us


and I tell the doctor
“I can’t feel anything yet”
but I’m not sure what I mean


Lacunae One

My nephew calls me up
on the phone, often,
just so he can hang
up on me

there is joy in loss
when we are small

that someone can be there
and then gone

mothers playing peek-a-boo
and we can’t help the glee
escaping our mouths in giggles

once, a friend and I were
driving on a road she knew
well from childhood

when she pulled in her breath,
a sharp inhale of ache,

and she stopped the car,
pulled to the side of the road
and stared at an empty field

“what’s wrong?” I asked
and she pointed at the field,
the bits of grass,

“there used to be a house here.
It’s like it never existed.”

And together we stared at the blankness
that before I thought was something
full.

 

image: Aaron Burch


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