by Clara Trippe
6 months of slush instead of sidewalk. Summer town,
and little to do inside when the weather turns.
I am taken to a museum and my socks
get wet on the way. I am used to wet socks; I don’t
yet know of trench foot growing in the perpetual damp
of old war fronts and, later assumed, Michigan.
It’s many years after that I watch between my toes
for the first signs of dying skin. Scientific word
for whatever phobia makes you fear your feet
blooming into moss. In the museum gift shop,
I was given a sucker with a scorpion frozen
in the middle. I let the sugar curve close to the edges
of the scorpion’s body and that’s where I left it: a hair’s
breath from my tongue. No exoskeleton careening through
my intestines, all those miles of soft tissue and secretions
in darkness. Scientific word for the phobia of the far-away sound
of a heart beating. Once, I stayed up late to watch
the grass grow around her shoes, and I didn’t tell God
about it. List of moments edited out of evening prayer.
My thoughts occupied by women who were either flesh
or sculpture, and even with their own hands on their own
stomach they still couldn't figure out which. How long should
I want nothing? Until I dance in my hollow middle
like it's a ballroom, its parties elaborate affairs
I was once too young to witness. Ribcage straining to hold high ceilings.
So tired now, I hear snow slide from the roof, a sound unlike a heartbeat,
instead: like a body thrown down the stairs. Scientific word
for the phobia of slowly growing snowdrifts. For the phobia
of cold necks. For the phobia of resting my head against
another’s chest, hearing through cotton and flesh
the faraway sound of a heartbeat, buried and not mine.
Clara Trippe is a Midwest poet who has relocated to the East Coast to organize with feminist anti-war group CODEPINK. Her work has been featured in Grinnell Underground Magazine, Glass Poetry Press’ Poets Resist feature, and Paperbark Literary Magazine, and has had multiple chapbooks of poetry circulated on her alma mater’s campus. Clara is a lover of queer theory and freshwater. You can find her on Instagram @clarabelless and on Twitter at @mid_west_dad.