—after Kaja Silverman’s Flesh of My Flesh
On having slashed myself from throat to instep
in one unbroken line,
I suppose it was a reenactment, Freud's Nachtraglichkeit:
the second act. The past presses so hard
on the present, the present is badly bruised,
blood brims under the skin.
That was the situation I was in. Wearing a jacket of blood
from an earlier crime,
which was also mine. A curving zipper with misaligned
teeth, open to show red lipstick,
meat. And a stage smile, have a seat! Normally I'm much
more careful, naturally something
like this would only ever happen in a dream,
but even dreams have their dreams
of finding their dreamer awake, silent within earshot,
carving knife in hand.
Did you know that anguish thins the blood and thickens
the vessel? It was like cutting
a rare steak. A minotaur, glittering with rubies
and pink candles. My hands hung
like electrical wires off a building on the edge of collapse,
every one of my gestures symbolic,
ruined of magic. For there is no miraculous beast,
and there never was, standing
on the golden field of frozen honey clover,
each leaf strong enough to bend
under everything's weight. Strong because it bends.
Because it has already been crushed,
but its cells know that blight, one massive cut,
will slit each tiny skin surgically
in order to save the field from itself. I cannot suffer
the same fate twice, force my own hand
or stay it. Can't repeat or unrepeat. This finitude
is infinite and infinitely expanding.
From Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) by Brenda Shaugnessy. Copyright © 2012 by Brenda Shaugnessy. Used with the permission of the poet.