Issue 13

Autumn 2014



I sometimes wonder if I’m just a ghost:
When I’m alone, unbuttoning a cuff.  
When daubing perfume on each perfect wrist.

When folding garments, each a hollow self.
A suicide: a box on patient intake
forms, a footnote to a headstone, stiff

and imprecise, an ill-fitting sack.
I run my lips across my wrists (kiss, kiss)
for proof I live. And if they’re not a trick, 

a mockery,  then I must confess
the love and decades I might not have had.
I tremble for a truer name for this, 

this having risen from the neverdead.
I am whole, yet hyperventilate —
I am a could-have-cut, a would-have-bled.

I’ve housed the breath before you consummate
the carpe mortem, glittering with intent.
Resolve that sober can intoxicate.

Prostrate, I’d given angels my consent. 
I’d chosen my finest dress, a lacy sheath,
as if to bandage sin in sacrament.

We label mostly in the aftermath.
We can’t quite throat a word that could contain
the moment that the apple felt Eve’s breath.

Some membrane torn already in my brain,
what hand had held me here against my will?
An object set in motion stays in motion.

The only word for that is miracle.
That, too, becomes a thing that you survive.
It changes you, the knowledge you would kill,

to occupy the hour at such an octave,
prayer so pure you’d call it blasphemous.
What simple word could show you where I live?

The whole transcends the parts I name with ease.
(The knife was aptly named: utility.)
I need a word to hold all this because

I did not fail; my name means victory.
And there’s a word for what he did to me.


Nicole Caruso Garcia