Day One On April 1, 2022

“…our optional prompt! I got this one from a workshop I did last year with Beatrix Gates, and I’ve found it really helpful. The prompt is based on Robert Hass’s remarkable prose poem, “A Story About the Body.” The idea is to write your own prose poem that, whatever title you choose to give it, is a story about the body. The poem should contain an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and at least one crisp visual image.”

What Friendship Doesn’t Say

“I’d kill myself,” she says, when I tell her about the procedure they did that saved my life. A colectomy, an ileostomy, a re-routing of the intestine. I wear a pouch on my right flank, tucked beneath my clothes. But there’s a taboo against some body parts, as if they were evil, as if modifying them somehow bestowed a curse. She would choose one death over another, but still she would choose death over life.

Time passes; I become accustomed to this new plumbing. Perhaps a fancy pink brocade cover, with gold thread stitching for fancy would make acceptable what isn’t in a plain cloth pouch. But all that does is add weight and bulk; makes a bulge where I don’t want one.

But I don’t kill myself. There are much worse things than this to make one wish for suicide, I suppose. The body can be a landmine of hurts and pains and things that go wrong, parts that wear out or just don’t work. Is there a rating scale, so you know when you’ve reached the “kill myself” threshold? If so, I am not there yet.

Pink brocade, gold-stitched

formal dress to hide cast-offs—

imperfect body

Carol A. Stephen

April 1, 2022

Carol A. Stephen

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