ode to my heart, ending in a cpr mannequin soaked
after Hanif Abdurraqib
Honestly? I don’t know you well enough for this.
Your downstairs neighbor hogs the real estate, her pangs
& prowlings ballooning over you, dwarf-fist scrawling
troches in a constant epic, whether I read them or not.
But I’ve learned you. Sat in fluorescence strung through
a span of years & mapped your defects, the mechanics
of dragging you through the motions if & when you uncurl
a resignation from the labor of messengering blood.
I’m certified in your revival. I’ve counted out loud
to thirty, bouncing over a plastic chest –
flat. Nipples like dimes littering a level stretch
of sidewalk, the kind that’s never been your roof. Every instructor
didacts about the importance of bare skin, same speech
over factory-model same bodies, prototypes of worth saving.
If I am brought back from the grave, it’s going to be
with my tits out. Flopping like caught fish, as unhomed
& in a body as unable to breathe. You, subaquatic, still
& untouched by the chaos on the surface. I know the ungainly
& the need for practice. When the man on Centre St collapsed
after the open mic, the doctor worked his sternum like a bellows. Heave
& recoil. Maybe my would-be rescuer will just let me die,
watch you sink to spare the onlookers the scandal of my flesh.
I spiral in the training: one loop an imagination of precious seconds
wasted on indecision over exposure, a tighter coil spent pondering
on a modest choice followed by an sabred underwire skewering
through you, world’s saddest kebab. I melodramatize & you
pump away, skipping each red rope, same flawless rhythm.
We are repeatedly taught to underrate the steady; soft thump
of everpresence. I skate my hand along the water & your waves
kiss my fingers. Write me a verse where we engulf everything
that can’t see us. Not all the way to burning, but we can bring it
closer to the brink for when the burning comes. Let’s sneak back
to the scene of erasure. I’ll bring a fuel-can stand-in
for your ventricled eyes, & you, O Moby, uncaught & unkilled,
you whirl a breakneck pace, you tilt your stare to the surface
& watch the ripples spread.
Alison Kronstadt (they/them and she/her) is a writer, youth worker, and anti-partner abuse advocate currently living in Boston / on stolen Wampanoag land. Their work is featured or forthcoming in HEArt Online Journal, FreezeRay, Cosmonauts Avenue, and voicemail poems, among others. Find her on twitter @flalymagee.