Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Final Issue 2018
Lungs and the ghosts of lungs
Jenny Williamson

She went nowhere; she traveled a terrible distance. Wrote her opus
in secret, in lye, in code; dyed her hair
impossible colors. The lovers lined up around the block; they came in all languages—
all seeking to pour themselves into the silence she had cultivated
in every corner. The tiny apartment expanded
and contracted like orgasm: like heartbeat. There was no
room for anyone else.

She was building herself a life raft, a spaceship, a doorway; she was building
herself. The money came and the money went
and came again; the pain mostly went
but sometimes it stroked the back of her neck with its ruinous fingers
just to remind her. She burned down the house she had spent
the universe building; turned it all inside out—
stuffed the skin with the steely embers. Made it bigger on the inside.

Meanwhile the tiny apartment breathed in
and breathed out. Lungs and the ghosts
of lungs. She no longer killed her cockroaches;
just brought them into her bones. The days became warmer
so she put on her spacesuit and went out in the city.
Lie down, the beggars advised her. Give it up and lie down. The subways all stank
like purgatory. A man in the bar asked her name and remarked
on her delicate fingers. See these bones, she replied; I have made them myself
out of nothing.

About Jenny Williamson

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