At times the only way to endure it
is to inhabit another body.
There’s an old legend that says
sex was developed as a way for us to find our souls,
located below a stranger’s sternum,
resting like a horseshoe atop the door frame
of their diaphragm.
I can’t stand to see my face,
throw dark-colored sheets over all of the mirrors
as though I am in perpetual mourning.
In bed I insist on leaving the lights on.
spread like a frog and instruments inserted.
Remove what is in me that makes me feel
this way. Look down upon the cupola,
this is my body,
and recognize the symptoms.
The scars are white track marks where I’ve failed to go deep enough to remove it.
Bullet, canine, tooth, tumor, bone splinter, a coin from an amusement park
with an impression of your face upon it.
To cope, I corner the prettiest girl close to my size,
unzip her from cephalon to coccyx.
I put her on like a sweater and roam the streets,
targeting college-age men
who can’t decipher a homonym.
It is easy and less enjoyable than staying home alone and practicing with a scalpel.
It is easy but less enjoyable than dating doctors.
One day I will breathe in another person entirely.
I will feel them diffuse in my lungs like buckshot.
They will enter my bloodstream,
travel to the base of my brain,
and I will finally go blind.
by Ainsley Drew
Honorable Mention, Ruth Stone Poetry Prize