My flesh loosens. My hands ache.
I’m sifting through photographs,
dropping scenery into the trash. People

I save, the ones I remember. My sister’s
dead husband hugs her in every picture,
the rest of us standing stiff and dismayed.

I am multiple: high school girl in rose satin,
brocaded bride, straw hair absurdly curled,
teetery heels on my sweating feet.

Girls pull taffy, argue, laugh, then
walk down tree-ghosted sidewalks.
I’ll never forget today one promises,

but I’m looking past her, something
sharp closing my throat. There’s
a flaw in me, a crack in ceramic.

If drinking helped, I’d be a drunk now.
If running, a runner. You’re a nice kid,
a nice boy wrote on his picture.

We were lab partners, cutting a frog
to find the cloaca, the animal
cavity for waste and sex. It helps

to know that under my skin there’s
a maze of organs, a stubborn heart,
surgical clips keeping back blood.

Barbara DanielsTalk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. She received four fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her poetry has appeared in Permafrost, Westchester Review, Philadelphia Stories, Coachella Review, and many other journals.

Appears In

Issue 16

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