When he opens her chest, separates the flat skin
of one breast from the other, breaks the hinge of her ribs,
and begins, slowly, to evacuate her organs, she is silent.
He hollows her like a gourd, places her heart
below her lungs, scrapes the ribs clean of fat
and gristle with his thick fingers. He says, Now you are ready,
and climbs inside. But she is not ready for the bulk
of his body curled inside her own. She is not ready to exhale
his breath, cannot bear both him and herself,
but he says, Carry me, and she carries him beneath her
knitted ribs, her hard breasts. He is the heart now,
the lungs and stomach that she cannot live without.
Donika Kelly is a poet and scholar. Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. She lives in Northern California with her wife and all their animals
The New Word is a poetry submission column. Poems should be no more that 300 words, with a maximum grouping of three related poems. Before submitting, please make sure every word has been considered and the poem has been edited to the very syllable, to the rhythms of each sound and step.