Who will be with you
as you become? I am not asking
for me, but for the girl character
who waits behind my eyelids,
the wild foam of her
that spreads only outwards.
Most of the time I feel
her endlessly gone: the sun stuns
my empty shoulder. My scars
are milk. Gesture. Counter-gesture.
No longer anything healing,
I run into error. What I want
is to swallow my own form of mercy.
When asked, I describe where I was
as a kind of sanitarium. I run
in the cold until I become
a dark stain of copper, the outer ring
meeting the offering breast
of the inner ring. I become heat
and breath and pink thrust.
I turn frustration into bodily harm,
rub my skin until the blood comes.
The body has its own memory;
I brush against it when I bathe.
I was at a place where mercy began
but I didn’t really know it.
Gale Thompson is the author of Soldier On (Tupelo Press) and two chapbooks, If You’re a Bear, I’m a Bear (H_NGM_N) and Expeditions to the Polar Seas (Sixth Finch). She has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Her work may be found in places like Bone Bouquet, Gulf Coast, Guernica, Denver Quarterly, Sixth Finch, TIMBER, The Bennington Review, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of Jellyfish Magazine, and she lives, writes, and teaches in Athens, GA.