Fall 2019 / Poetry 2019 / Volume 50

Subtraction By: Jennifer Battisti

Hiding a body is easy. 

 

First—silence the still-small voice 

with the butt of your cigarette.

 

Tuck the teeth into a cellophane sack.

Invert the remainder into a lucky charm

 in the pack of 19 numbly remembered moments. 

 

You will let them bum it off you, give it away, 

 eat your heart out. 

 

The little bones and membranes were stolen 

long ago, but the smile is elastic, flinches pretty,

even after the tongue was seized.

 

You once hid an entire decade inside the seam of an unsteady line

drawn along your eyelid, —Sex Kitten number 42

in midnight black. There are 66 shades of coward

 

to keep your mouth puckered dumb

from opening.

 

You hustle to smuggle your spine under

the stubble of another, to be remade

every other day after hot lather and blade.

 

You miss hiding inside a wicker basket. 

The bond between lung and wood.

 

How when the world is reduced to constellation,

each commanding atom of light forced

through fibers that cinch your hiding—

 

how this shredding solves the problem entirely.

The question of how much space to inhabit. 

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