In the Animal Garden of My Body

Ask me again how the story should go. How much the underbelly of my garden held to bring forth spring, how much hunger I had to devour to get the sweetness I wanted from it. Did this devouring frighten you? I frightened myself in how much I promised to tell you if you asked me again about the water the water the water. What errors I made calculating the downward trajectory of memory rattling loose in the inhale, sharp in the shoulder blades exhaling like wings or whales or swizzles of light. Ask me again what I offered as a sacrifice to the rooster crowing his betrayal of morning. Forgiveness, what a sharp blade I press my body hard against.


Copyright © 2018 by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 5, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“At the 2018 Kundiman retreat, Sun Yung Shin led an exercise using Bhanu Kapil’s ‘Humanimal [I want to make a dark mirror out of writing].’ After that, it seemed I could only write variations of this one poem, about the (in)congruencies of which stories we tell or don’t tell or want to tell ourselves and each other. I have spent a lifetime studying forgiveness and am constantly humbled by how complicated, impossible, and necessary it is to every memory.”
—Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello