A cage can be a body: heart in the night
quieted slightly; mind, a stopped top.
Clock spring set. Hand in motion.
The fact of the hollowed nothing head.
How did we come to this? Inch by inch.
I was born, borrowed from the beast;
I was now property in a country
where chain reigns—the empire city of I.
So, the empire: the breath, the legend
of the well-guarded hell.
One comes to tell you
what you should have done differently.
I think, I say, and I am not you.
In the margin of fear I heard a woman
convincing me to listen.
“Listen,” she said, “to the doctor.”
The city before this was nothing,
then dolls’ voices crying ma-ma, ma-ma,
ma-ma. And swirled sand in a storm.
Nothing turns back. I saw a fluttering
I recognized in the distance.
Out of nowhere, there was red: the
furnace and the beating heart.
All the while, camera flash lit the scene.
(Originally appeared in Ploughshares and used by permission of the author.)