Variations On A Large Historical Oversight:

There isn’t a ladder, but there is a picture
of your new husband in an airplane bathroom

holding a jewelers’ saw against his
exposed stomach, trying to cut out the

cancer. I don’t know how you got the
hydrogen peroxide bottle past the hands

of so many calm Hispanic janitors, or why
you held the camera with the knocked

rake of your shaved knees, but from what
the photograph shows there was turbulent

fever and the stewardess had given
everyone Plan B pills and shots of

Robitussin in case the procedure called
for a water landing. The perched laminate

floor you both appear to be standing on is covered
in unwrapped sanitary napkins and looks,

from some angles, like a rotisserie city built
wide into bone—a city in the mouth of a three-

legged cat, a cat fully held in an engine not
stalled. Your new husband is

saying something about the limited role of female
political correspondents during nationally televised

catastrophe fundraisers but you are holding
your own saw, carving at your own chest, removing

from yourself something you never really
wanted. We talk about this picture years later: you in

a bus checking children for lice; me in a botany
exhibit on blight. You say, where there isn’t

this loss I am lost in performance. I can’t eat
celery I say. We watch a boy swim in a flooded

station wagon. When he comes up for air we are
all in a meat locker.


Confounding Attempts To Explain The Mystery:

On a folded piece of
dead-red paper I

have written the
words this tiger is not

drunk enough to
kill us. I place

the piece of paper on
the lip of my used coffee

table, but you still
don't want to pet the

animal, and I still don't
want not to ask

you to. There's something about
the dange
r, you say, so

I pull out the
cigarettes and

gasoline and soon
the whole apartment is

burnt fur and ROTC
cadets all-hugging a

contaminated fire hose. I like how
your hair looks in

the loose mist of
that cold water, smoke

seizing with the shake of
what it means to hold

nothing. We don't know
if the tiger made it out or

where he will show up
next. When we get you

home, the man in
your bed suggests there

will always be the weight of
possibility possibly boxed

in what we never want
to open. You look back at

me, and I look down at
the blood now appearing

at the side of my right
ankle. What is inside me? I

ask. What is inside me, you