Never Coming Near Again

by Jane McCafferty

The day I broke out of the life sentences encircling my dear thorax
Was the day I knew the insides of my calves could easily be turning green
with unsalvageable vines.

If this is not a way to say “Scared of dying,” speak to me, Face Light.  Remind me you are never coming near again.  Last night counting moon coins, huddled in a torn black field,
I prayed the children we never had would be named for invisible
saints, like Dot in the cafeteria, who wept when the heavy girl said
“No cake today, M’am, my cat died last week.”

I followed that girl — I needed to learn to love a cat too much.
When I was small, I cut a worm in half, and still sometimes wonder if that divided creature ever found itself
conjoining.  If it was a planarian flatworm, it had a chance.  Planarians re-grow lost heads, their memories intact.

So I will be a miracle namer in your distance.
Miracle of 60 thousand miles of blood vessels
inside our bodies.  To be crouched down in a rainy gutter
with pebbles might help me to glisten.  I’ll remind you I’ve survived
the institution.  I can make myself up.  What I want is for you to hear
my breathing, like the child you were, holding the seashell
to your ear one evening, when all the others had departed —
and you knew that little fire of solitude —
that little fire of solitude by the sea —