I cling to this chill

by Ashley Bowler

I cling to this chill.
Watch how I unfurl
before it, flag of myself,
a mirror distorted. This body:

it is nothing. In an instant
I could transform it.
Now it is a lake spreading
outward, now small and blank,
a flat stone poised
in a hand. Now it breaks apart,
only the grains of it.
Listen, how they drift and scratch.

The old story, the forms
that were broken are still here.
Now they reassemble, a buzz,
a communion.

They promise me courage,
other virtues, the rough shield,
freedom from pain. They tell me
I am this, or this:
calcium, magnesium,
a vitamin that is missing,
blue phosphorus burning.
Chips fall from a chisel.

Joints burst into loud
red flower. A bird flies
out of my mouth,
into the ceiling

©Ashley Bowler