I can’t find your lips or eyes but I can trace the small, frozen stream of veins behind your jaw to
something bigger. Your head is cradled in chrysanthemum, a press-stud holding you in place.
Your collarbone is a caldera, a crossing, a rail bed. The blades of your body arch, the hollow of
your throat a clasp of tangled roots, and behind it all your shoulders dissolve into mountains.
You betray quickly back to the earth, the scream of a train deep in the distance. The tracks, a
small apology across the hills, heat with the memory of your body.


Your body is a tree reaching for water. There is a small, feminine hint of hair tangled like a
Strangler Fig at the base of your skull, or where your skull would be if you were whole, but
somehow I trust your emptiness is an extension of the river line. There is the shadow of a small
boat in the proud splay of your shoulders. Your muscles recall erosion and wear. Your shoulder
blades burst behind you, a reed keel, dark leaves, another rendering of flight.


Everything below your hips is buried in threshing snow or uncertainty or alluvium. This means
your torso is a trunk containing the most of you. Your breastbone is a smok breaking free—a
violent movement of myth, like retching forward, flying open, an anxiety in the landscape that is
not simply cold front or floodplain. This shadow body refuses.


Jessica Bixel’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Birdfeast, Parcel, Handsome, Sink Review, and Houseguest.