The Confusion of Trauma and Self

by Kathleen Janeschek

When I stop to touch another’s skin,
my fingers curve around their limbs and
push down into silky fat woven into muscle
into meat upon bone into the texture of vessels
charting course between the ridges
of tendons leading into bends and drops—all
of this beneath the pressure of my prints
but only when I remember that I remain
caught between each pulse, solid through
the rush of blood to my head. But,
when I forget, I wander free from
my flesh and the crust of my body
falls, then a spool of soft fat slips,
making an escape, and I watch a
stranger reach down and grip what
I was—the seams spilling, split, those stitches
come undone—and hand the sack of meat back
to me. Holding the hardening lump,
I hear the whisper saying
tell yourself that this
is what touch is.

 
 

Kathleen Janeschek is an American currently residing in Taiwan. Her work has previously been published in the Best American Experimental Writing 2014 and has won Hopwood awards in both poetry and nonfiction.

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