Self-Portrait as Girl Being Led On

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I watched them do it,

their small, fat fingers taking
 to the swell of chest a blunt scalpel
and peeling, no, sawing into stomach
 their fitful curiosity, the frog’s

 glass eye staring outward and empty,
 staring toward the very mouths of schoolboys
 who entered so brutally the crevice, the abdomen’s
 silenced bell. How gingerly

 they lifted intestine, kidney,

 the heart’s own gray bead, placed
 them side by side on the table, their pens
 marking quadrants, angles, here
 we have stripped the body’s interior—here
 we have mapped progress in the form
 of a thievery. When was it

that I looked at the frog’s poor brain, feeling
 the animal of my blood shift
 around the hush of a shared current,

 an electric storm’s spark gathered

 between fingers that worked at buttons, zippers,
teased from lip a word, any word,

 to signal a nerve’s calm, and there we sat

on the twin bed, pulsing—held

 a bundle of knives in our hands, marked
 the fastest entry, the cleanest
 cut. Watched him take with his arms
 the lung, liver,
 the vein’s long thread—place them
side by side on blankets, on pillows lined
 with the excess of my need, that cruel tenet
 of promise. I didn’t realize

 that when they kill them, the frogs,
they do it painlessly, as painless as a needle
 slipped through the neck’s soft dip,
 the point of severance saved for those
 who look only forward to the palm’s
safest weight—what do they hear,
 other than the quick snap,
 the voided sense? I didn’t

know to enter through that door meant

 there would be no swift exit, no closure
 or stitch—I didn’t know

that when the boys had finished their movement,
 their hour, they would simply unpin the frog’s feet,
 the wrists, and drop it down
 into the bin. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017