Table of Contents



Stephanie Couey


a word

when i finally meet my mother
she smells so strongly of woman
my mouth fills with brine
she tells me that spreading my legs
will not feed a city, even in fresh snow
where he pours peroxide into an openness
and i coo
                  a broken toy
that retracts every barbed
body's argument every blank
space written in the form
of a gas station or wine carton
spent on rattling nerve
when really it's all just body
every hint of body i've known
found their caverns of tempers
while you are a word
slung over my back



a wellness

my doctor since infancy peels back my scales
fingers my shining belly and pushes
pulp wet organs littler
than he'd like but intact, pushing back
like frozen fruit against his fingertips

the story isn't my wily body coated in gulf oil
it's my mom, sitting in a sick-bucket pink chair
watching me watching her and giving me
the signal we keep between us that says
if you die i will die harder



a drip

let's do something seedy he says
like pull back the petals of an orchid
even younger
                    than you
she is all juicy heart
holy groan and battling
cave of cuts and i
am a cavity of skin

ask your mother about your skin
he says, when you think of it
the next time she calls, ask
has my skin been briefed in burning?

he says see
how she's only partially stripped
at the center, see how she's all
limber cord and lipping newness
see how she is all silk and no brine

                                                      are you watching little seal?



a [real] boy

this one writes your skin in taps
renders you into a simpler asset
a merging irradiance of bone and water

he nestles your body, all done
into a brown leather loafer
wet with smells of rummy cocoa and beer
and old movie urge
undone at the heel of a groan

your chest is a dented tin he tells you
and you may be a tiny reptile cut by voice
that folds at the core of you
but he is a heat-hungry placemat of a man
and he says
i drive your delicate wrists like a car i used to own