Instructions for Becoming an Ouroboros


Talk to the wound like it’s a microphone

                                             or just another pair of lips,

parched from words it had to say

                                    (but couldn’t, for lack of ears.)

Praise it as the line crossed for the first time

between  subjectivities,

                                    two sacs of chemicals and feathers,

                           two colliding stardust vessels

on an impenetrable night,

         visibility reduced to a chain of rusted yellow light.

Kiss it only when completely compelled to,

                                             which is to say empty

enough to believe it can fill you.

Suffering’s not

         the only way

                  to have a body,

                           and a body’s

only meant to be a gate into the earth.

                           Tell the wound you’re sorry,

                                             enter it completely,

await another birth.

Ellen McGrath Smith teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and in the Carlow University Madwomen in the Attic program. Her writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Los Angeles Review, and other journals and anthologies. Books include Scatter, Feed (Seven Kitchens 2014) and Nobody's Jackknife (West End Press).