Laura Kasischke

Faded Snapshot

Is this the Virgin Mary in the garden, her
blue gown bleached off
by too much sky?  (Look how the world has bled me dry.)  Or—

Two white bowls of milky soup?  Or—
The veil snatched too quickly away from the faceless woman’s face?  Or—

Could this be the naked
breasts (my own) as seen in the mirror (by me)
just before the surgery?  Or—

The breastless bareness afterward, so
much like the babies’ breath left
over in the vase—

After the rest of the moldy bouquet’s been thrown away?  The way—

Now, the potatoes I peeled an hour ago wear
nothing but their own slick
tears on the cutting board.  Or—

Is this perhaps a clear syringe of
cortisol, extracted from the fasciculata zona? That—

Triangular bit of glandular tissue busy, always, apparently, providing
us, as long as we live, with—

Our greatest fears, most passionate convictions, along
with our confusion about this.  For—

Instance, that time I touched a snake.  Back—

Then, it was just some damp thing an older boy had snatched
out the daisies, and held
out to me in his hand, warning—

Me (almost tenderly) that
unless I wanted him to kill me, I
was going to have to touch it, which—

Not wanting to be dead (or
out of curiosity?) I did.  Only later, I suppose, to recognize—

What it had been, finally
and fully seeing it, but—

From a distance, while denying having seen it, while
it was also in my mouth.  Like—

The hundreds of other things I once believed I’d never
done, or tasted, or seen, until—

I understood I had, and
could never not again.

Laura Kasischke has published nine collections of poetry and nine novels. Where Now: New & Selected Poems was published in April 2017. She lives in Chelsea, Michigan.