POETRY November 5, 2021

Bad Temple

The doctor says the lining of my uterus is migrating
into its walls. Displaced, the tissue continues
“to act normally”—thickening, breaking down,
and bleeding. The pain is worse now than before.
I lay out traps for the new mouse and remove them
before he comes close. I know panic like a tongue
knows an unlit mouth. I am thinking it must be
dark inside the body, and where do dreams find light
to give us hungry dogs, bags of shaved organs,
and the infant left indigo by a plump tamarind pod.
I want the light and I don’t want the light. After everything
I read online, I am now convinced the migration started
early. “When the uterus is first formed in the fetus,” experts
suggest, “endometrial tissue wanders from the matrix
like a rogue angel from heaven.” I call my mother
to ask her if when she first held me, she could tell
something inside me was leaving. She says I was so hungry
I was yellow; I was as small as the belly of a cat. What are you
doing about the mouse?
I don’t want to pronounce
the word anticoagulant; I don’t want to think it.
I am listening to the walls like music. Sleeping—old
towels beneath me like secrets—again I hold no milk
and the slim body of a scalpel. All the bodies I’ve housed
now fugitives in the light. The doctor says
You are a bad temple. I tell her I know.
All these years I’ve known the blood
was threshold. Signal. Was never ornamental.

Sara Elkamel is a poet and journalist living between Cairo and NYC. She holds an MA in arts journalism from Columbia University and is an MFA candidate in poetry at NYU. Her poems have appeared in The Common, MQR, Four Way Review, Gulf Coast, Cincinnati Review, Best New Poets and Best of the Net, among others. Elkamel is the author of the chapbook “Field of No Justice” (African Poetry Book Fund & Akashic Books, 2021).