I’ve begun to see the dust on the floor –
in braids, roping underneath the bed and nightstand,
rooting in my wooden planks. Begun to see
this head of hair, graying and matted,
my living littering the country
like a slow sloughing, a peeling death,
my emptying my urn on concrete
and waiting rooms,
my outstripping my best.
It’s a one-woman show –
the way I unzip
and crawl out of myself anew.
This is progress, our need to outgrow ourselves
day by day,
the fresh skin, metallic. Meanwhile:
shipwreck on the coast of my birth.
The children I could have been
pick at the deep back of a TV
for gold, their waters swimming
with mercury, the cancer
I should have had
breaking another family brittle.
I am not there, but here with the corpse I shed:
a map with no X, a trail charting the restless felon.
The old self, disowned,
is waste. If my lifetime
a wasteland makes, then show me
to degrade – Should I burn? –
teach me to diminish.
Teach me to live