by Shevaun Brannigan
I get so angry at children with their mothers
in the library talking loudly about how they love books.
The longer I live, the more likely I am to lose a limb.
I analyze each word of mine now like combing for lice nits.
Everyone is too close to me.
I feel my mother’s breath coming in through the vents like sarin gas.
A lack of consideration is the issue.
I can count the number of people I know missing fingers
or parts of fingers on one hand.
Tell me as I grow older I will not only stay intact but grow.
I commit to a life of butter knives.
No one else can hear her, I hear her
sighs like only dogs hear those whistles.
I never wanted to hate anyone.
Sometimes I come-to in my body
and I am staring some angry person down.
Most of the time it’s a mirror.
Today it is a woman missing a leg, wearing a skirt rustling above her knee.
How I always thought I’d seen the missing
children from the newspaper adverts,
as though all the extras in my life had been kidnapped,
and I even once called the number to say:
I saw him at a lemonade stand in Charles County, giving out the change.
I remember the taste of that lemonade even now, so sour
my mouth puckered like a snapdragon blossom.
I once loved gardening and now I can’t bear even the feel of soap on my hands.
Seeing workers’ gloves in the road, run over,
I used to wonder if they missed the hands that filled them.
Or if the empty airplane hangar needed that time alone.
Now I know it is neither, and both.
To contain and be contained—my mother’s body
once held me and now I hold my mother’s.
Nesting dolls are a poor, overused metaphor.
Find me the doll of the daughter, haunted. Comes with ghost.