By Michelle Chan Brown

My birth
was clerical error.

We were between two wars.
With grungy emperors,

small, crucial
losses were natural.

Some bureaucratic chaos
at the hospital. In yellow,

murderous nurses
ferried their cures

undetected. Surgeons spat
their stats.

The breathing machine,
warbling in a minor key.

On the speakers, Chopin

his skimpy bust
again. Trusting

mother, elevated
like an offering. A séance,

she owned

her spine, still rich

with calcium. Her epidural
made her beautiful,

brought out her colors.
It was the year of the vulture.

Our future

meat. That notion—
soul—like chloroform,

a gourmand’s stinking quilt.
Muslin, cheesecloth, gauze, eyelet.

We will miss being flesh.
It’s kitsch,

says the press, pushing away
bowls dark with Jell-O, tray

after tray. Whatever
it is, I want to starve

or feed it. Optimistic,
this thirst.

No oasis. No stubborn body to medicate.
Nothing to do but wait.

Take out the impatient organs.
That’s some desert we’re burning in.

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