I’m in the doctor’s office
trying not to laugh
as he keeps pressing me
“what was your father like?”
I don’t have time quite frankly.
this man is asking me if I ever
feel like I am watching myself from
outside of my body.
I say sincerely,
sounds like you think I’m a ghost.

I’m trying not to laugh.

he is outlining various traumas
I may have experienced in my life:
my drinking,
my family’s drinking,
my previous assaults by men.
we talk MS, autoimmune
components.
we talk allostatic load,
latency of neglect,
the firing of nerves.
the confusing compression.
I’m just talking about the mirror
and gesturing a lot to the air
about the fact I asked for it
and then my legs went numb.

that was the first time,
I say.
when I asked for her to enter me.
before, she did it without asking.
I nod as if he is
answering the questions.
    get on it with then.

Sir, I am possessed.
I don’t have time for this.
I stand up,
suddenly able to walk again.

“LILITH”

send him a polaroid
of one tear rolling down
your cheek and don’t tell him
you got suntan lotion
in your eyes.
and don’t drown in the bath.
prove your
f ee l i ng
and that you have
f ee l i n g sss.
when I was a child,

colors came out of walls
to talk to me and said:
to survive
place yourself in a box.
there was a room of girls
and we would tell stories.
I live in a box.
it’s about

10 x 10.
and when I walk,
it moves with me.
and one of them says in
a British accent, get on
with it then.
10 x 10
and I am screaming inside.
and everyone wants to

see me cry
and my mouth is
set sternly but
more importantly,
I have had a recurring vision
that I will kill myself
right before I turn 35.
over and over I watched myself
leap off the bridge.
I just have to not kill
myself and I get to walk right
out the ancestral curse
and you’d think
well certainly
easier
than crossing
a tightrope
or tricking a man
into switching places

but the thing is
get on with it then
this box. 

“the box”

I ignored his question,
showed him the
callous on my palm,
referencing my need
to grip.
sometime I have rough sleep,
that’s all, I shrug the bruise
off.
he licks my hand  with his tongue
without questioning my need to
hold everything so tightly
I’ve succumb to carpal tunnel,
arthritis, delusions of
grandeur and infancy.

“has anyone ever talked to you about splitting?”
the doctor asks.
where am I?
I was twisting the straw
in my fingers, contorting my
face and confessing things,
sometimes i like to shoplift.
“Who is Catarina?”
the doctor asks.
numb.
“splitting is a phenomenon in which you sort of leave your body
to allow another persona
to take over.”
the doctor says.
sometimes I like to squeeze worms in my fingers
until they pop.

          “like possession?”

my posture is severe,
having been found hunched over I am
upright, hands crossed and
waiting.
sometimes I peek at Christmas presents.
“no, more like split personality.”
the doctor is taking notes and
eyeing me so intensely, I almost
laugh. don’t tell him my name
is Arachne. not
yet.

sometimes I watch the mirror dance in candlelight
            and wait for her to come in
              I break men
like the swell that rises over bridges
engulfing islands with her mouth,
we break men with turns of
tides.

“Sarah, have you ever felt like  you were standing outside
of yourself?”

we break men with
dulcet metronomy,
or the way words do:
harm.

“Poltergeist”

I don’t like to talk about my
house so I don’t
but the garage
is gone and so is everything
that was in it. my
childhood bedroom is gone
and so is everything that was
in it. one day the sink
will collapse. it’s leaning. we
have snakes
in there. other things too.
giant water bugs and
crickets and
slugs and  I have no
yearbooks. I have a couple
notes from my friends
and a swath from a cologne sample
my high school lover
used to wear between
fucking his wife and me
accompanied by a note
he wrote me once:
there is wine in the fridge.
but I am thinking of
myself younger

and the old lip gloss bottle,
a roller, vanilla scented
but pink
that I had saved because it
reminded me of an entire
freezing december
on my crush’s bench
where sometimes they let me
wear their sweatshirts.
I am
holding my hands to the ground,

feeling vines wind up
my calves.
repeating,
muttering.
what rolls off my tongue in
these heavy fits of consternation.
the way they describe me to the
ambulance: someone who
looked like she saw the horizon
close in on her and
collapsed.
the way they describe me
to the first responder
is that I looked to be seized
by terror like she saw the
horizon closing in and
just fell
to the ground. 
“Persephone”

we left with our hands
uncurling
in separate pockets, fingers
strained against the denim.
I left a place where I found
God and
a studio apartment
with no utility bill,


foothills with no rain and
zero percent humidity,
sun 300 days a year and
a rose blanket that smelled
like my parent’s room.
I left my
first incantation,
      my brother is dead
in the margin and
you left me with this
townhouse.

an abrasive echo
that scratched marks
in the walls,
no budget for paint.
one half of the utensils,
a couple of wicker baskets
and no end table.
you gesture to the antique armoire,
remind me it’s yours
even though it’s not your
taste, you see the value
in heavy wood.

you took the bigger bottle of
toothpaste.
five chairs,
all the curtains, the area rugs,
the broom and your
glare lingered on me
counting dollars
in a borrowed sundress,
feel my clavicle
jut out the skin
as I rationed meals.

you took the kitten and
the lighters,
every last card
(left the armoire)
and  so abruptly like when
you took my waist that
one breathy night,
pulled me into the crook
of your body. said
you were going to
      squeeze me in this bad neighborhood
rolled out of that soft spot,
grabbed a litter box,
took clean off.

“doors #13”

freedom,
as with any other illusion,
is a cage; square
of smudged windows

 or
slowly cracking doors,
screened porches and you’re
watching the kids chase the wind
into the gulls at the shore.
brick walls with a hole in the
mortar and you’re peeking
through the cracks of your
latest lover’s absence,
trying to catch sight of
the tips of their nails
for the synesthetic trail
down your  breast or
the scourge and
when settled
and mended and feeling
very tall,
broken glass on the sidewalk
as you leap from your
place:

burning, indelible
in char.

doors #12

“when the terror becomes unbearable,
the other becomes God.”
–Louise Gluck

confinement can be comfortable.
felt familiar in
the grip of load:
my chains
hung from me like the tail
of my self-throned
coronation robe

when I hoisted myself
on self and made policy about it,
my divination crumbled in it’s cell.
started at my temples,
made my crown;
the veil that obscured
the trail of my widow’s march
following the scent and
stepping lightly down the roads
that my men roamed further apart
from each other to leave me
in pieces in rows in their
new lovers’ homes.
on a shelf,
freshly dusted,
gilded by the yellow dust
of whatever stamen she picks.
I was mired in sudden freeze,
then implosion,
then retraction of amends
and I came

full at them
hook in mouth like
hungry lure.

“the pond”

as if I am even hurting anything;
some embittered tremulous
thing shaking her fist at the
moon and praying for a tidal
wave.

you notice my arms are toned,
you say I really wear my weight.
you watch me lift bone to sky
and notice the notch in my veins
before you even notice
the flood.

“flood”

once, after a meeting
a woman went up to another
woman and told her it was
inappropriate to share about
her rape.
I was sitting on the gray couch
debating having an eighth
cup of coffee when they
both turned to me
for support.
I used to think there were
rules. rule #1

KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.

“raped”

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