Thursday
Apr142011

Tail

Jenny Johnson




I picture the shameful length of it poking along behind me as I walk down 5th Avenue,
           the odd sheen of it, shimmering in shop windows,
How after too many beers, I’d lumber back into bed, its strangeness between my legs.

But as the sun rises—the clean stretch, aesthetic vertebrae—how I might flex its
           elegant, careful weight.
Consider my newfound balance, how gracefully I ascend a flight of stairs,
           teetering on one leg, my rump poised just so!
Or how I might signal to my lover, wave fondly to her through the air, lift my fur to tickle
           her mouth, dash a small crumb off her lips.
In a midnight alley, flashing my snowy underside like a switchblade, we’d sprint through
           underbrush.
Had I a tail, I would be luminous and lingering as a comet, who traces the starry night
           with a broken ellipsis…

*

As a kid, I remember the small green bubble inside the carpenter’s level,
           How it would dart from corner to corner,

And how good it felt to straddle the sawhorse, out behind the shed, half tomboy,
           half centaur,
How I clenched a 2 by 4 between my thighbones and it was part of me.

A nest of yellow jackets rose from beneath the splinters and, forgetting how to move,
           how to cry, how to run,

I let them sting and sting and sting, eleven times, leaving swells on my arms, neck, legs,
           feet, and shoulders.

*

Oh, Lord of Parts, Oh, Holy Tool Shed,
When I rise from these sore bones,
What have you taken? What have you left me?