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Anna Kovatcheva


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I know where my hands are:
at the ends of my wrists, unhooking a leather belt.

I know my mouth; jaw unhinged, tongue
curled low, lips rubbed red. My skin

keeps me contained where jersey and lace
did not, holding the shape of me

sprawled sluttish in bed sheets
spotted with fingerprints.

Once I read the case of a woman
who woke outside her own body: her hands floated

at her sides, her self bled past the borderlines
of hipbone, clavicle, scapula—like a child's

coloring book. Her thoughts were crushed plums, staining
the mattress where she had no limbs, leaving

her shape on the pillows like pressing a flower.
I imagine disembodiment:

unable to feel fingers between vertebrae,
knots in her hair, sweat in the crease of her thigh.

At night, she dreams of making the bed, and maybe of needing
chapstick again, tasting camphor in the corners of her mouth.

Self Portrait as Farm Animal, HB 954

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I wait with feet slammed
into stirrups, draped in a hospital sheet,
unfamiliar weight pressing my cow-curved
spine to the paper covers.

The doctor cannot say
how I lost my girlish hands, my human
mouth. He tells me my options:
sleep only four hours per day, sell myself
to a dairy farm, breed well. I could give up
my body for beef—good chuck, 76% lean.

I need not worry;
there is already a system in place.
On my way out, the receptionist cuts
my driver's license into crooked pieces
and throws my purse into a leather-smelling closet.

Just as well, she says:
it hung so awkwardly from my newly ungulate arms.


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My jar of stolen hotel pens has tipped
onto its side, the desk is bruising my elbows, and I am thinking
about feminism.

Dominance is irrelevant. I watch our feet:
somehow, somebody always ends up on tip-toe, quadriceps shivering,
too precarious for power play.

I notice points of contact:
a hand climbing the ladder of my ribs, or closed
over mine on the edge of the table. Maybe a kiss
where my shoulders meet.

I think, if I feel pinned down,
love has nothing to do with it; the weight is only politics.

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