Now I remember:
I was telling strangers at the birthday party
about all the ways in which our cells
are trying not to be forest fires.
How inside each cell is a tuning fork
and inside each tuning fork,
the coiled music of our DNA.
I was floating somewhere between
the beer cooler and the red eyes
of three cigarettes
the way I imagine silk floats
inside a spider.
Inside, my friend was calling his mother
in the bathroom, while outside,
the woman he wanted to love
picked a hole in her tights.
I was close enough to catch
the blue smoke
that escaped her like a bird,
which was closer than the distance
between the benzodiazepine in my pocket
and the back of my throat.
I was thinking about how I am always
running towards or away from myself.
Why I keep opening my eyes
underwater, what I hope to see.
We picked at a cake
someone bought at a supermarket,
toasted to mercy
though none of us knew what it meant.
My friend told me he wished
for someone to treat his body
like a public park.
I’m sick of careful, he said,
which got me thinking about why
I feel some days like a narrowly avoided bike accident,
and on others like I have been tree-ringed
by the man who took my silence
to mean yes.
Which I guess is like asking
why the mind has a shorter memory
than the body.
Whether the language of the body
could ever fit inside a throat.
—from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
Tribute to Scientists
Ruth Madievsky: “I’m a doctoral student at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy and a research assistant at an HIV clinic specializing in maternal care in Downtown Los Angeles. My philosophy on the intersection of medicine and poetry is this: medicine lets us live; poetry gives us a reason to. In the words of Hervé Guibert, ‘In writing I am always both the scientist and the rat he slits open to do his research.’” (web)