My body no longer recalls the hunger, no longer remembers
the magnifying glass I kept close to my skin—the fissures
where tubes fed me now barely visible pursed mouths.
Even I must squint to see years of my life crouched
there in the crook of my left elbow. They say our bodies
replace themselves every seven to ten years with an entirely new
set of cells—as if we could lay ourselves down at our own feet
to mourn, as if we could shuck skin like a snake, slide away
naked and new, some born-again eve. The mirrored walls
of physical memory must be faulty if we look in and only
forget forget forget. My body no longer recalls how my mother
must have held me, my wrists pudged over my tiny hands as I felt
her parts, learned them until I knew we were separate. Her body
replaced itself three times before I was born. Now far away
she is still replacing, herself and me, herself and me
while we both grow tired from this constant shifting.
Some days, I just want to keep the parts of me that were touched
press them in dictionaries, display them in shadow boxes
sort them out on my kitchen table so I might remember
each tiny scar as its rightful fault line. It seems unfair
that I didn’t stitch each new cell by hand, carry my tired limbs
across the threshold deranged like a well-loved doll. And some days,
I thank for this blank slate, feel lightness like a bird who pushes her nest
into the river and quickly forgets as she flies off to build anew.