My Body as Experiment
My upper right thigh bares a stick-and-poke line
created at sunset, birthed from a bottle of Fernet
and a whole pack of camel reds on East Beach
when we had nowhere else to go.
I bartended, you bartended, we drank
each other’s blood on Johnny Cake Hill.
I asked you to move in when I returned
from Lisbon, it had only been a month.
Sobriety and us made no sense, so I kept at it
I learned more creative ways to consume.
I hated your breath and parched mouth,
your stained teeth and calloused bitten nails.
I used my body to absorb you; your toxins
your matted hair, your feverish laugh.
I countenanced my vulnerability
at dawn against the meek clamminess
of your back. You were too drunk to talk
so you vibrated one side of yourself,
blood shot your own eyes—my fairy man.
It was in your insomnia
I lost the ability to be grounded,
stopped knowing what agreeing was
and anger recoiled into compassion.
I threw your clothes from cupboards,
scared you and the neighbors.
Thrashed the creation of myself
against walls and bedposts.
I concussed in France, once –
the embarrassment of a public woman.
I am an experiment; I can survive
the other half of an eight ball
on the side of a Newport driveway.
But can I eat the whole of your parts
and last out the hangover?
It wasn’t until I saw you in the desert
that I knew you had no water for me.
A drought; pores clogged
with broken acupuncture needles.
You drank, sang Jim Morrison in the rental car
said you’d only take a sliver, promised you’d be ok.
I awoke to a fragment of you on a hammock
speaking spells at the moon.
You called me Lilith, said we had to fly.
In the replica of my side, gravel embeds
and I hate you for making me chase
hair and nails and big feet through the Mojave.
Desert brush is sharp and you lay atop
a possible stake like a cloud;
foam finding its way up your throat.
I have a Xanax prescription now
and an addiction to ginseng, I have been
securing my womb ever since.
The street lamps created inverted suns
raining tiny Valencia orange drops on my handlebars.
Through the neighborhood, dropped Civic mufflers hummed
Hip-hop echoed through air; nocturnal bird chatter.
The long asphalt stretch behind my development
brought shadow characters. They liked to peck and caw
at each shade of my likeness; fluffy hair, baby phat,
bell bottoms over Etnies, thin brows, muffin tops.
Their rapture found seeds in me buried;
in a room of mistaken forms light peculiarizes.
Weight presses, gives way to amber darkness,
the conjunctiva colors itself unrecognizable
not even therapy can remind you.
But I know the room and I know there was more
than one gold-chained Virgin
and that’s all I’ve been given.
ALEX MACHADO is a graduate student studying English at Bridgewater State University and a writer living in the Boston area. Her poems and essays have appeared in Boshemia, Breadcrumbs Magazine, The Merrimack Review and other publications. Anj Kepinski photo.