Ties & Corporeal


I accidentally called school home once,
drowsy, slumped against the window of a bus,
the low vibrations of the motor making me sick with
warm-socked, wool-scarved weariness and want because I am
tugged home by a coarse black string, tied to a rib we
learned about in bio last year —
the classroom smelled like clementine peels
and like the graphite of mary’s pencil as she
crossed off the minutes until the bell —
the palpations of my heart scrape my ribs and it’s
too cramped in there but I cannot find it in myself to sever ties.
I was made here, born here, cannot remember a time before I
would yearn to spend twenty straight days at school during the day and
backstage in the afternoons, surrounded by warm radio static of musty costumes —
I sit and mend black gowns with black stitches and
if I prick my finger and bleed
I have all the more reason to return.


You seem too thick to crumple
so in my dreams I peel your husk away,
exacto-knife fingertips curving chasms through your chest
until I get to a peach-fuzz parchment covering of wishbone-arched
ribs, graceful ivory needles, your marrow.
I make a slit and your skin splits in two
spread in thousands of membrane-thin layers
of angel wings to either side,
but I have taken out your innards and, lacking them,
you cannot fly.

Tonight I wanted to try something different and
burn your flesh, to taste your ash and
feel it sink into the divots of my tongue,
tender charred remnants of your thick outside
that I could never manage to peel off those times we were awake.
Still, I’m not sure I want all of you gone.

Natalie Wagner
Age 16, Grade 11
Hunter College High School
Gold Key

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