Never have I seen vertebrae so small,
so white like a strand of pearls
without luster, unclasped.
The spine is tenuous,
made for a touch more
tender than mine—
The sardine smells like the holes
of my pierced ears.
My body has never learned to heal
even after all this time. I keep pushing
metal posts through my ears so they’ll stay
open. But maybe I should let them close.
My body is as stubborn as I am,
but which of us knows best?
Maybe if I could hold the sardine’s spine
gently, without breaking it,
it would become a pearl necklace clasped
to my throat as I speak the answer.