J. De Nero

I am a modern woman and will try most anything to heal

I read an article titled Can Apple Cider Vinegar
Fix All Of Your Problems and my emotions
all corralled behind an inactive electric fence.

I am not yet thirty and my back is a natural disaster.
My back is an invasive plant. My back is wisteria twisting
my body in a playful chokehold. My back hangs like a trumpet
flower, doubled over, in attempt to be modest, not-too-showy.
My back tries to shrink, tries to make itself smaller,
to balance others in the room, who command more space.

My back tries to help me blend in. My back tries to mimic
the lamppost, the sunflower, a parking meter, but it's still
a fat cat trying its best to fit in a windowsill. It’s still a
messy nest of spiders hiding in the corner of my room.  

I try ginseng from the bodega, turmeric from the Asian market,
cannabis, once... or twice…. a day, and one time in Korea,
a woman on the street handed me a green glass jar,
an empty plum wine bottle, as small as my palm.
She had filled it with moths she’d collected from
the street lights around the island. She stuck her finger in,
till the dust collected, and then rubbed it down my spine.

My neck... my back... fix my posture and my stance.

My back is a drunk man in an alley using two buildings
to steady himself. My back is a drug addict, who can’t
keep their head up. My back is the trembling friend,
furious and nervous, the one with their ear
to the bathroom door, praying their nodding
mate’s still conscious.

My back is not a straight line. It’s a limp belt
that wants to curl in around a waist, direct me, coax me up
your stake, so that I may grow to be crowned by the sun.  

My back is the cat again, vase-shaped, and stretching in
the only patch of natural light, (my window lined with quarters
you’ve left like offerings at a shrine.) My back is a wallet
you fold in a half, tucked in the worn outline of your pocket.

My back is three ibuprofen in the morning and two droppers
full of that awful brown liquid, whose name translates
to “horse smell.” My back is a teenager sitting shotgun
in a van, legs up on the dash, a few toes out the window.

My back is the same dark shape your body took,
when your mother found you, crumpled in the basement
like a bandage you finally ripped off. My back is not
the rope you used but the knot.

It is 2018. Of course I try yoga. I am a Sphinx. A cobra.
Now I am a corpse. An aqueduct. A longer version
of myself, but without fear now, stretching out
of my skin and into my best self.

But at night, my back is inconsolable. My back is as sad
as the moon. My back is the tide tossing into your shore,
knocking down all of your beach umbrellas.

At night, when we’re a set of spoons, and I’ve lined
all the pillows with garnets and citrine, amber and topaz,
orange carnelian... At night when our bodies are not
our own, when we’re two trees clicking together
in a storm, the spiders come out
and make bridges of us both.


J. De Nero is a Buffalo gal won't you come out tonight and dance by the light of the moon. She has been published in Peach Mag, BlazeVox, and has work forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue.