f(x)

Annalise Lozier

Runner-up
2016 Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

I have a sore spot
on each side of my head where our eyes used to be
when we were fish. Like sandstone we rolled back      and forth
with the      water, but you were    a reluctant            igneous
traveler. Tell me the distance from the      trough of this wave to the     next
in the second    before      it breaks. Draw me      a curve to mimic the arch
of your      cuticles. I hold my hand up      close to your face
      and you watch
as, imperceptibly      it shakes. A single molecule out      of place.
The key sticks and all that’s left      left for you is a line of e’s. You hit the
      space      bar
but there’s no room for                  breath. Not here or there—   I was just
      wondering
how many chambers there are in your lungs   mine are divided            in
      two.
It’s tragic how your roots were pulled      from the silt by the current
can’t transmit signals to the center      of the Earth—free-floater      that
      you are.
And when I show you how I’ve stitched chainmail to the bottom of my tongue,
you’ll gnash your teeth—      Shame,      shame. Sharp,    splintered
knuckle bones; they break through your lips like freshly wilting flowers. That’s
      the curse
of growing your own            joints. Simplify                  simplify. I
      twitch like a fly
that drowned    in the hollow of your eye. They nod
and recount your perfect strategy the only fault, you say      is the words.
      Find it      between
the pins that hold me to the table—      the pins, the webbing between fingers.
      Pin me
to the   table   and I’ll laugh when your scalpel severs my aorta—I’ll run down
the white      floors and you’ll wonder why my heart      was in my
      stomach. They leave a trail
of sticky brown footprints that follow you      almost everywhere except
      to bed. They stop
outside the door. I’m an eel in the slippery            black, shaped your ears
like conch shells      in the slippery black. Almost like spirals      they wind
in like a measure but x      is only a question. Meet me
in subsection            b of part a on page 405. Who will die      faster
of oxygen      and crumpled days?      We leave      wet spots
like teardrops on the page. I know terminal velocity when      I feel it,
the      color    of salmon eggs—      Do you?

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