Field Notes on Phase Change

1. Before you were this animal, when your skin muscled to surface and you picked feathers from your teeth with the bones of the bird you swallowed, the earth of another sky rained glass upon you. A moment shy of glass rain, you could inhale the ground on which you stood. You yourself could be inhaled, the incinerated mass of you. A bright pink lung becoming breath for a body that doesn’t survive it. A bright pink lung falling to earth to become what time allows or requires.
2. In the conversion of ice to vapor, three distinct heats. At some point, convert joules to calories, for the sake of conversation. At some point, think heat as kinetic energy. Do this especially if it is midsummer, 103°F (convert to Celsius) and you lay naked on damp, sweaty sheets in a third-floor apartment. To test the hypothesis of converted energy, put a piece of ice in your mouth, hold it x number of minutes on your tongue, and exhale.
3. Before water, the feeling of water. Before wind, the feeling of air about to be blown. Before now, then. Before then, now.
4. What once you were. Once you pinked. Once you tantrumed. What you felled, how you fell, smoked, kissed with just your lips. Once you breached, birthed, held like bird bones in your nest. What once you absorbed, sank into, perched atop. Once you stopped holding up mirrors, stopped giving a shit. Once you reviewed, rehashed, reminded. Once settled. Once folded and paled. What once you stilled.
5. Exhibit A: unpumped blood sinks, consequence of gravity. Exhibit: eyes without light. The sudden meat of a hand. Some fragment of thought hangs in the air, indefinitely suspended. In another temporal geography, a child will lick it off the ceiling and taste its acceptance, turn to the bitter man in the corner drinking fermented corn or rice and say, though we walk through the valley, no fear, no fear. The child will think death tastes like honey.

Christina Mengert is the author of As We Are Sung (Burning Deck) and coeditor of 12×12: Conversations in 21st-Century Poetry and Poetics (University of Iowa Press). A contributor to Boston Review, Tarpaulin Sky, Tupelo Quarterly, Web Conjunctions and other publications, Mengert is also an editor, screenwriter, and faculty for the Bard College Prison Initiative.