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Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad


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Each piece, each muscle part
sweats in dark cavities,
but on time, laboring dutifully;
every organ toils
in the dim tracts within me

My reddish stomach,
hollow and stratified,
churns the lumps
my tongue has pushed
passed its door,
contracts and spits acid,
no lamppost lines its walls
when glossed
with new layers of mucous

And my suspended kidneys
strive the same,
on each side of my spine,
no starlit sky caps renal heads,
as they gag on the poison
of my skepticism,
hurling toxins I introduced
simply by disbelieving

The alveoli too, millions of them,
brilliant little bulbs, berries,
at the end of each branch,
fill the sunless cove of either lung,
lapping the oxygen I offer them

Elsewhere, new vessels quilt
a fig-shaped chamber,
thickening in shadow decorously,
with nutrient-heavy slabs of tissue

Each unit, every cluster,
still a loyal member,
digs and grinds
without the bliss
of guiding beams

But what a gift
that would be,
to donate a beacon,
show each faithful servant
the beauty of their drudgery

When I see him,
I hear all my instruments play,
strumming a prayer
to open my mouth,
swallow a cylinder of light,
to cast a love shine upon
their night-ridden ways

Even the oocyte, Oh-uh-site
surging from ruptured follicle,
wonders what it’s like
to wait in a tunnel
with a little glow
at the end of it


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For the way my face leans against the tub’s cool ledge
between eager deposits of expired dairy ingested
that morning, for the forty-eight hour wait for reprieve
while ginger ale swirls in the walls of a poisoned stomach;
for the incision, the tissue rip and monthly peel that wakes me,
the two a.m. double over with a pillow propped below
as I watch videos of butterflies emerging from chrysalis,
while painkillers expand their own wings within me;
for the emergency room floor cradling me when I collapse
into a horizontal heap from some deficiency, the doctors
that assure me amid sluggish blinking that discharge
is impending; for the inflamed heel that breeds deafening
screams with each step against pavement, for the injection
pouring liquid comfort into a foot that’s held like a smile
in the technician’s palm; for the ice packs, heat pads
that caress the torn tendon in the overworked knee;
for the needles that enter beside my ear, gifting saline
to a mandible half locked; for the chest ache, infected lung,
sharp slice from nail to the end of my thumb; a song
I have made from all of them, from the thrill of a burn most
severe, for its grueling registry built however with a countdown
clock, I sing to myself that melody always when my bones
restart that slow leak and scans come back unconvincing; sing,
sing, when the bleeding drips vicious from that other wound
opened without rupture, from that gulf so internal,
the renowned surgeon cannot find no matter how much
she digs through and beneath layers of sedated muscle

Black Dog

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Not the nuzzle
of warm fur
coiled by his side,
where the gust of her breath
is a sample of relief

Imagine a creature
that does not age
into weakness

A stray whose howl
echoes when it’s moonless

Not a companion of comfort
but a beast where
no kind stroke
can train her
into submission

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