Runner-up in our Hallowe’en poetry contest
In the dead dark of a moonless night,
in a cemetery strewn with Spanish moss,
the mad scientist fossicked amongst rejected limbs and ancient bones,
digging up a torn rotator cuff, an irritable bowel,
age-spotted, potentially pre-cancerous skin,
two Achilles tendons stretched like taffy.
His prize find? A lump of brain dulled
and fogged, no memory, no recall,
the stream of thought a constant “Those thingies” and “Whatevers.”
Lightening flashed, Igor stumbled past clutching his hump.
With a jolt, I was transformed from one thing into another,
what was once firm was now loose and flabby,
what was once alert now hazy, half blind,
mostly wrecked, a total mess.
Before bed, I was a woman in her late forties,
but part by part, I was replaced with the used and tired.
the bungled and the botched,
the crazed man racing around my body, affixing me
with wires and tubes, screaming, “It’s alive! My god! It’s alive.”
Later, after everything, I wobbled out of bed,
grabbing a wall, a dresser.
I tripped over my actual two left feet,
lurched toward the bathroom, arms outstretched,
a round moan in my wide open mouth.
I was a woman unable to navigate her own house,
everything unclear, difficult,
the toilet there,
~ Jessica Barksdale
Jessica Barksdale is the author of twelve traditionally published novels, including ‘Her Daughter’s Eyes’ and ‘When You Believe.’ Her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in Salt Hill Journal, The Coachella Review, Carve Magazine, Mason’s Road, and So to Speak. She is a professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California and teaches online novel writing for UCLA Extension.