I often find myself lost in the basin

as if a void or whorling cosmos has opened in my
bathroom. It’s the water. How in rushing and rushing
across my hands—how rushing isn’t the right word but
the sound of rush as in gush as in sloosh. How sound
reverberates in both eardrums and my legs feel drips
and fire. I am gone. I can’t say where. My body
remains. This loss lasts only seconds because there are
the children. Always the children. Touching my legs
and hair and arms.

My husband won’t eat ice cream from the pint after it’s
been opened, scooped, placed back in the freezer. Only
untouched. Only smooth and unblemished. Come on.
We all think this is a metaphor.

I patch myself together like an exquisite corpse.
Blinking eyes on my breasts and labia and knees. I am
badly drawn. I am always blinking—sleepy. I can’t
compose my husband. I try. I want. I fold and fold and
fold. The page always white when I unfold and flatten
the white against our table.

Some days I cannot peel myself from the bed. I am two
dimensional—paper with sticky backing—sunflower
wallpaper scraped to curls, creeping around the room in
a breeze. I can’t smile over risotto or green beans: You
can’t know unless you’ve watched your life move on
from the bed and wanted so hard to both walk to the
table and to die at the same time.

Medical waiting rooms remind me of breathing or
eating. How we all do this moving together as
marionettes. Like smelling armpits or ear wax or maybe
dead skin squeezed from a tight black pore. Like
remembering the weight of a past lover on your body.
Like breaking apart or sewing together. I think of all the
bears and cats and llamas I’ve re-seamed with thread.
For a child, this being sewn is alchemy. Like the beast
come to life and roaring. Think of all your own
intangible pieces that have gapped. Waiting together is
like almost touching the tender slit between two of your
toes. The touch that is not yet touch. Medical waiting
rooms always have an old man clearing his throat. This
is standard. And his wife of forty-seven years hears the
phlegm rattle his trachea. Again.

I tell my son he is swimming in a light I can’t touch:
You never forget how your baby looked in your arms, in
your body. I carry your swaying, your twitches and
jerks always, inside my body.

Another of my cousins has been diagnosed with MS.
Now four out of twenty-five on my mother’s side. My
uncle said at the first of his siblings’ funerals, Eleven of
us and not one divorce. He made marriage seem like a

All I can think about is dismemberment. Here is a bit of
skin, I’ve been saving this for you. Take both my aortas,
plaque removed. Would you like my eyes? Left or
right? We will never be strangers if you’ve swallowed a
sliver of my fingernail. I have eaten pieces of all my
children: a bit of cuticle, a lick of salt from their eyes.

I’m worried I’ve become the central figure of our story.
I didn’t plan it. But here we are anyway. I should
mention those nights—giddy on ecstasy—a lover
brushed my curls straight. How the comb trilled static
against my back. Or how one of my lovers killed a
friend with a car. Or the one who burnt down a house in
revenge. Thought it was empty. Or the one who held me
by the throat in a wet alley. In the grocery store when
my son was a baby, he vomited as he played in the seat
of the metal cart. I caught the vomit in my hands like a
bowl. I think that may be what love looks like. We are
not held but bound to each other. Eventually, there was
nothing left to do but toss the vomit to the floor. No one
came to save me.