What It Was Worth
For a while I follow your blue eyes glowing off the stereo,
then tuck myself into you, inhaling your smell, remembering
our summer in my four-poster bed. You wrapped me in your
dark robe, we passed joints in the sunlight of my bathtub.
At night, you laid your muscle under my pillow. And in the
blue light of the TV, I nestled my back in your chest.
But it’s drizzling tonight in the headlights, they glide by the
main road that passes the lake. He moved back home
this Fall. You and I sneak now. In the back seat, you hold me
under your arm — your pants unzipped, me breathless.
I reach my cigarette out your window, but the orange pit falls
inside the car, shattering like fireworks onto my panties.
That disappearing lace is how jealousy burns when you
tell me later a new chick was in your head even then.
Released now from that machine—
from knives and tubes that cleaned my insides,
purified me of maternity—
They lower me.
Elastic cement: this floor gives way.
My skull is cold. I step
off this shelf into the punctured universe
where sounds swirl down, and down I follow.
I sink, softly in this ocean.
Down andownandown where she . . .
Mommy, I say. Tie me back into you.
This growing away hurts.
You, too, released too soon what
belongs in your cave.
You swirled me into the atmosphere,
and I’m still breathing only water.
Expansion, the natural state of things.
Inflating cosmos, constant ballooning separation . . .
I hold little things in my hand and feel strong.
Dismembered butterfly, I count out your parts:
two arms, curly legs, sealed eyelid
the living oceans will never burst.
I count out your pieces and
climb into the bleeding palm
of a puzzle I took apart.
The poles melt. Only this is real:
Rivers of truth. Only this flows true:
Murderess, this truth will rape you tonight:
(Surreal is metal. More machines.
Nurses paid to keep me alive
threaten me. I resist their task.
no big deal,
now go home.)
Catherine Zickgraf is a writer first, a performer second. As Catherine the Great, she has shared her spoken word from Philadelphia to Miami to San Francisco and dozens of stages in between. See her perform at youtube.com/czickgraf. The written word is her first love, though. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Bartleby-Snopes, and GUD Magazine.