Chessy Normile

Witness

Washing my hands rapidly with nowhere to be, I splash some milky white water on my
stomach. It drips in three rivulets onto the elastic band of my underwear and I realize how
sexless my life has become. I run a hand under the faucet, wipe the soap off my skin. I feel
depressed. Mine is the loneliest bathroom on earth. People are like, ha ha your poems are
funny
, and that’s a kind of a miracle. I’m grateful. It’s nice to share the joke of my existence
with you. But, like the fish who tried to swallow Tobias’ foot in a lesser known moment in
the Bible, I seem to function one way, when my life is really hidden in another.

It’s not the food of me— immediate, salty, eaten by the river— that you need. It is my weird
gray organs: my heart, gal bladder, and whatever that other one is.

Tobias didn’t know about the heart— that it could be burnt when he sought to bed a haunted
beloved; that it could drive The Destroyer from the room, for the both of them— nor did he
know of the gal bladder, which, if made into an ointment, could cure his father’s blindness;
cast a film over his eyes that he might peel gently back.

I think I’m devastated. I don’t know if Tobias was.
Probably not, because he wasn’t cursed, and I am.

For seven years I have stood at this sink
and sometimes, though rarely, I forget why.

This is a momentary kind of a thing.

Chessy Normile is currently at the Michener Center for Writers studying poetry and pursuing her MFA. She received the Andrew Julius Gutow Academy of American Poets Prize in 2018 and the Andrea K. Willison Poetry Prize from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013. Her poems appear in jubilat, poets.org, fogmachine.life, and elsewhere.
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