Opening History

Opening History
by Dan Raphael
if you x-ray a question
if i capture the magnetic resonance of a memory
if today i stop eating
my grandfather wont let go, lowering my ears, stretching suspenders across my ass
the doctor needs a ladder to get up to the bed,
pulleys revealing a sky too bright to be our night--
not dark enough to conceal, not quiet enough to sleep through
asking too many questions, drawing too any diagrams
the machinery constructed from stale cereal, indefagitable white bread,
boxes built of potato bones held together with beercans bent so excitedly theyll never let go
parts of my brain were sold as I watched, leaving only a barcode behind
redeemable in the after-market fallen over the edge of the road
where an ocean would be but empty
back when we only used needles to sew
when the only cooking was food
when the only branding was done by the cowboy church:
i moo for jesus. im wearing nothing under my cassock.
behind the bell tower in my mind is a white room with no way in or out.
all the colors of stained glass blend into the harmony of my transparent complexion
i am free of sin but not of guilt, i am free of joy,
i have a surplus of gravity
wearing black makes my flesh claustrophobic,
all the light being passed down to it, all the chatter too complex and imaginative
to not believe—names from the yearbook, photos from the enquirer—
less than half the phone numbers in america are listed.
half a million more active social security numbers than people here
                             the side of my house opens as if it’s a garage door,
surprised at how thin the space between floors,
how feet upstairs barely show through the ceiling,
every week i stay 5 minutes longer in the tub
all my bathroom needs is a stove and a tv
like a treehouse without a tree but still not grounded
like a bird who splits into three or four separate bodies
that always rejoin before dark

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