Here, where your fingertips brushed
tissue hardened from a fish hook,
some neuron fired—oh.
Golden, this light tunnels,
purple ropes slide
down the spine,
a jolt to start a harbor's lights
Here, my knee, the skin peeled
away on concrete, and patched itself
as quickly. Here
a cast iron skillet burned. Here
a freckle met another: my body's
latitude. Have you ever
seen this whole skin, the stretch
of muscle underneath?
When the doctors saw you open, pump your heart
with intimate fingers, that is called cracking the chest.
We are so breakable. See this knot
above my back, the small
curve between & above
my hips: they drew a needle
through the skin & bone,
and with a soft pop pulled out marrow.
See here, my underneath of bone
was broken. Now kiss the ends,
fused nub of calicified cage.
We do this to our hearts before
we wake—we grow a thorn cage
From our bed, sheet-slanted light bends,
curious and slender.
My toes, your shins,
the blankets' shedding noise, we say
adagio and pucker the sheets as we breathe.
For hours, only half asleep, we curl
around the mattress; we will never
understand it, how the winter winds
spin tiny worlds in order,
they will tell us nothing
of the spine by which we find them
tethered. Ice spirals on our windows,
scratching with its nails andante, andantino
as the smallest slice of sunrise comes.
And it's no secret that my heart lies
in the stars; among the nebulae expanding
I could spread and crackle open,
my soul a clam shell, unhinging.
All that light, such formless
motion, the dark matter that multiplies
itself and tears further the seam
of the universe and says the things I
can't say: how I love the stars, I loathe
the stars, the empty spaces between
them and the rooms I break
into slowly, closing doors in darkness,
biting off the threads that tie us nearer.
Driving home tonight I'll hit a butterfly
and watch it smear a wet mark on the wind
shield, fleck of yellow dust.
Pamela Manasco is a freelance writer and editor living in the Birmingham, Alabama area. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina—Wilmington.