The room is a flush of white light,
a continuous hum of daydreams,
those parasitic plants that invade my life.
He speaks to me as one might speak
to his drugged mother, slowly, carefully
so as not to confuse, keep very still.
They thumb shut my eyelids, a swab of cocaine
for the pain, scorpion’s kiss,
memory dissolving into bedsheets,
the purulent secretion draining into my pillow.
Can the friend that stabs you—
the steel scalpel pulled slowly across flesh,
a bone chip the size of a Heller dropped
into a clean silver bowl—be the love that
they pull and pull on, the thread?
Afterwards: a half meter of gauze,
my blood a flood of red on my face
I lie back, nose swaddled in bandages,
eyes bulged out like plums,
my face bloated and ugly, a sticky clot
filmed on my lips, marrowy flakes stuck
to my chin.
Tomorrow, I will look in the mirror
and not recognize
my face, the nose I once admired
chiseled away, caved in.
My hand reaches between
my legs. Watch what dreams I see.
Peel off the bandages
and have a look at me.
THE MOUTH OF WHICH YOU ARE
You don’t think of those around you when you utter mommy
under your breath: I love her, I eat her, I bite her,
something enters your mouth, your mouth as womb,
asshole, ear. The woman whose daughter is dead speaks loudly
to you about loss, about forgetting—realizing the difference between
“being away” and “being dead,” how you have to be dead to never come back,
how she likes that part, remembers Freud’s four-year-old in the footnote:
but why won’t father be home for supper?
Later, in a different city, to a room full of strangers, you insist
that your mouth is your best idea on the basis of agreement, silence,
even and deliberate tone, on the entrance of language that is separate, unrecorded.
You are suddenly aware of distance. Kristeva says, the mother inhabits the mouth,
the lungs, the digestive tube of her baby: accompanying her echolalia,
leading the way to stories and sentences: a speaking subject.
The body doubled up and made sacred.
Remember you used to say ma ma ma, three steps down the palate, tap tap tap.
Remember your wish for a mirror that won’t reflect the face of your mother,
for two mouths, mother tongue—for a mouth in another room, in a different body.
Jenna Lynch lives in New York and teaches at The College of New Rochelle. She holds her MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon. Her poems have previously appeared in Stirring, Sundog Lit and Construction Magazine.