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Elegy for a Forty-Three Pound Woman with Mental Retardation

Autumn and you are in your mother’s house.
__________Plants no longer turn
_____but fail down to the soil
_______________from which they sprung.
To be sure I can’t speak properly to you until Winter
_____when the kindly rescuer appeared to find you
alive and moving, resuscitating a growing need on a soiled mattress
__________—whisper body—
one chain away from death in a room you’ve never escaped.
_____Thus you, my joyless seed, sprout.
____________________Could you often hear
_____the butchers’ feast being torn into by mouths in the outer rooms?
Partitioned again the body that is end-stopped. This world
__________did not fall from my head.
_____An ornate impotence arose with the descent of you, and instead
of the too much to say to tell a truth, I’m burdened by a phlegm-thick mouth, my sounds
_______________throat bound and the entire vocal
__________apparatus breaks at the appearance of
_____the French word for apology. I do not sorry.
And so it is that experience becomes
____________________remoteness from you and where and how
_____you were recovered, nude save a diaper, which you filled
____________________You haunt my lunches henceforth:
eyes obsidian looking back at me: with the warning, this is you.
_______________I waste my food, mingle it with all the others
_____in the cafeteria’s heaping garbage bin. Always luxuriating
in decomposition I think of your hunger and your distance
____________________from being sated. Yet you have
have survived the compost heap, becoming a new
__________drift engendered from a decayed parent system.
_____Was it not a type of softness, kindness that laid you initially
down ___onto the mattress? And you thinned like a blade
unable to come to an end. I know you are alive somewhere,
_____tube dripping
__________protein into your stomach, and I know too because
our luck doesn’t run in that direction. Of all the mad things to wish,
____________________your death is the one unmet by my madness.
_____Just be dead already so I may lead the choir
_______________through practice of your dirge. I’ve chastised
____________________them for prematurely practicing their lilts
_____and guffaws and their throaty chuckles. Rare phenomenon, white music,
_______________denying your own existence yet still issuing waste,
and until there is a word for that,
__________a name for you, the limpid melodies composed
_____and my static accompaniment on the piano falter in your name.
_______________You heard all this and worse
while in your mother’s house where
_____your sole wish was to cut yourself open, expose your perfect interior
_______________to the eyes circling about you.
Perhaps you too heard your requiem. All the more reason to cut off an ear.
Mutilation is a lesser goal of the slaughterhouse. Peer inside it.
__________Equiposed between the animate and the inanimate the terms
_____are laid thus: You, profoundly disabled; me, profoundly incapable.
_______________My thinness, keep your thoughts on me and
__________what I bleed on the killing floor. Here am I
leaning over the butcher’s block with knives
__________shiny and clinical—that much I can promise you.
_______________Disarticulate the memory from the body so finally, here, away from
your mother’s house, in the abattoir-of-what-we-can’t-give-you,
__________I determine our roles in the fantasy
until the fated removal occurs and I the butcher hold
_____the beef heart in my palm, and I lob
____________________the organ onto the table. Its dark melt pools.

Ethan J. Hon is from Omaha, NE. He is an editor at JERRY Magazine and a contributing editor at The New Inquiry. He is adjunct faculty at LIM College.

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Fox Henry Frazier was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Binghamton University and received her MFA from Columbia University. She is currently a Provost's Fellow at the University of Southern California. She is Poetry Editor at Gold Line Press, and her work has recently appeared in Spillway, Mantis, and The Paterson Literary Review. She loves travel, gin fizzes, and her dog Dalí Nimbus.

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