Disintegration Loops

The body tries

            to repair itself—skin

warm to the touch

and tremulous

            as an early summer morning

when, putting in tomatoes,

I turned from the garden

            to the compost,

and found you

hiding, retching,

            bent behind the house, casting out

blood black as soil.

The body seeks

            to keep its damage sewn up,

suppressed, sobs

heard drifting now

            from the downstairs bathroom—

a plea for reprieve,

a repeated apology,

            the liquor bottles empty,

the self in parts.

How the mind

            dies by bringing along

the body,

and the body, like a dog,

            keeps returning, but now

the cells arrange

oddly. This is what

            a scar is—a trauma

barely smoothed,

but still a troublesome thing,

            your organs not like the fruit

that would come to us

in August,

            but hobnailed, insoluble,

hardened again

and again,

            repeating—the body trying to heal,

trying to repair—

Rachel Harkai earned an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. A finalist for the 2019 National Poetry Series, she was runner-up in the 2016 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest, was awarded a 2010 Kresge Artist Fellowship, and has received four Hopwood awards for both poetry and nonfiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative, Salmagundi, Michigan Quarterly Review, DIAGRAM, Smartish Pace, Hotel Amerika, Portland Review, and elsewhere. Harkai currently serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for Room Project, a space for women and non-binary writers in Detroit.