I like to think that I was asked,
Who wants this body? and I did,
that I raised my hand and claimed it.
That when I stepped within its boundaries,
it still gleamed, smooth and unblemished
as a tumbled stone. It had been
prepared for me. I didn’t know what flaws
to look out for. It was my first time in a body.

In the bright world, the world that this skin breaches into,
the body is an animal that wants.
Any animal that hungers is one that fears.
So I feed it, but its hunger keeps returning.

Here is a person in a cage of bones.
Here are bones wrapped in spools of flesh.
Here is a life that is made of water
but is not a part of the sky or the sea.
When I try not to think of the illness,
I think only of the illness.

Here is the point of no coming back.
Here is a shipwreck in a bottle.
The empty mast has broken, snapped over in some gray storm.
The bowsprit is a briny woman carved of wood.

Here is an hour spent drawing vials of blood,
labeled with a name that my father provided.
Here is a meander through ashy trees,
my legs against the warm damp ribs of a horse.

So far, I have outlived both Jesus and Sylvia Plath.
Salt seasons this body and preserves it.
I like to think that I will be asked,
Are you ready? , and that I will be.

TRACE ELEMENTS by Chera Hammons

Photo used under CC.