I saved my paycheck for three months to get it done.
Eddie said he knew a guy, so I sent the text to set it up
and had the surgery done on a Friday. To have the weekend.
The bonesaw gash in my sternum is sealed
with a clever clasp, a diary padlock worked
with a small brass key, ornate and edgy.
The hinges run the length of my spine,
a new alloy, rustproof, minimal squeaking.
I keep them regularly wet with oil.
The illusion of being intact is quite
astonishing, but a quick twist of my skeleton
key and the whole chassis springs open
gaping viscerally at all comers. Inner
workings exposed and glistening, my
intimate pumpings and beatings public
and unguarded. At first only the close ones
had a key, lovers who fingered the secret
valves and pistons, dipping in sweetness,
tracing the curve of the cage with fevered
hands, stroking a lung, a liver, clutching
a heart. The surprising sex of sweetmeats.
Then I began carelessly leaving keys
scattered anywhere, going unlocked
to the store or the mailbox, just for a minute,
and if a neighbor or checkout girl caught
a voyeur glimpse of spleen, then those
were the breaks. Community demands
sharing and sacrifice. But now I find
myself unlocked and open any time,
dirt and dust gumming my guts,
the milkman afraid to look me in the
kidneys. I steam into the winter air.
This is the third night this week
I’ve run naked through the streets,
ribs banging open in the wind that fills
my cavity, splayed and caressed, completely unhinged.
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Photo by Nick Harris/Flickr