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.
LAURA VILLAREAL is an MFA candidate at Rutgers University—Newark, where she also teaches Composition. Her work has appeared in Dos Gatos Press’ 2016 Texas Poetry calendar, Crab Fat Magazine, and is forthcoming in Sakura Review.