Self-Exam (My Body Is A Cage)

By Nick Flynn

Do this: take two fingers, place them on
the spot behind your ear, either
ear, the spot where your skull drops off
into that valley of muscle
& nerve—that is the muscle that holds up
the skull, that turns the dumb bone
this way & that, that nods your face up &
down when you think you
get it—press deeper, touch the little bundle of
nerves buried there, buried in
the gristle—the nerves that make you blink
when the light bewilders you, that make your tongue
slide in & out when you think you’re in
love, when you think you need a drink, touch
that spot as if you have an itch, close your eyes &
listen, please, close
your eyes—can you hear it? We think our souls live
in boxes, we think someone sits behind our eyes,
lording in his little throne, steering the fork to
the mouth, the mouth to the tit, we think
hungry children live in our bellies & run out with their
empty bowls as the food rains
down, we sometimes think we are those
hungry children, we think
we can think anything & it won’t
matter, we think we can think cut out her tongue,
& then ask her to sing.

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