Today we're fortunate to have a prose poem from Jennifer Militello's new volume, Body Thesaurus, published by Tupelo Press:
Autobiography Toward a Study of the Thousand Wounds
Doctor, this is my diary. It begins with my confession to you.
I was hung before my throat could cry the rivers. I was hung like an animal and the rope had a bite: when I touch, I touch a razor of teeth, an amen on the edge of each of them. I am adrift. I can see the pier with the loose rope fallen. I can see the fog and the oars that will not last. I have eyes that are lanterns so I will not wreck. And yet I cannot steer myself toward land. I am at the end of risk. I am at the end of my fragmenting hands. I only have nerves to tell me how far. I only have nerves; the rest of me is ill. What I twist into rears toward frost. I twist into the immigrant rain. I am again at sea, made sick with floating. As it is, I am rich with different versions of myself, and I do not know an antidote for me.
I am an impossible equation proven to exist. With the ache of layers yet to peel off, made of features and a clockwork heart whose mechanism breaks as death sits, wreckage in the face, smells foul, and is blackened. Accidental fracture is a gift.
What I see is not so much a lost figure as an arch of rain, so many windows, and an expression like wool. What I see is not so much the fields of me as the silver beneath, the skeleton, its trace elements, as one falls to the hands and knees. What I see is not so much the childhood collapse or the stories the sea-branches cherish and break, or the way I move air in front of me from its delicate weave. What I see is a child’s breath at the shoulder like a thief. A chemistry of sin that earns our keep. That makes of me an enemy when the enemy is scarce.
I cannot remember my guilt, my personal plague is one of indifference: my house is built of ill dreams, a desire to do harm, the sick art of the act. The struggle is a thing I scrape free: random cloaks or shadows across my lips that keep what I say as the oath I have sworn. What I would have said terrifies the masses. What I would have said threatens with the large hand, with planets askew, with what I knew was wrong from the moment I thought it.
Doctor, there are too many nests for me. To list. To sit and see. To frequent. To invent. I count them out, sticks and rakes, ribs and rags, a fathom I can wreck. To sense. To taste. These are the prophecies where the whisperings can live. I sift them and wait. I shake them and end. I am the land. By the flesh of the world, I crush and flee. I seize and cry. I am the mind of me. I singe and crave. The nothing of me crude. I am soothed from it.