Just before Christmas, my father’s intestines bloomed,
emerged pink from inside eroded stitches,
were nudged back in again by white latex gloves
and sewn up tight like a football. For six weeks,
he can’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk.
He kills zombies on the computer screen,
and I make his murderous face. He warns me
that laughter tenses his stomach muscles.
While he naps and my mother teaches I sweep
the leaves off the porch, feeling each clutch
of the broom in my belly. I scoot the potted plants
with my feet and use my back to push
the picnic table. I take the ornaments off
the Christmas tree and climb the attic’s
shaky wooden ladder, turn its bare bulb
to illuminate each box of red and green
pressed against tissue paper insulation.
The tree is too tall to fit through the living room
door upright, so holding heavy clippers
over my head I snap off it’s top along with the angel,
who goes in her own paper, her own plastic box.
Outside I pitch the tree onto the hill of ash
where we burn branches that fall in the yard.
When I click the lighter, our tree goes up quick
like the fire has been tucked all along
inside its needles, trying to get out.
She holds the length of chain as close
as cotton she means to rub her cheek against.
She snakes her ankles behind her neck.
The soles of her feet press into her shoulder blades.
The sun grazes her forehead and she walks
towards you, blood tearing her eyes.
Her fist can barely fit inside itself. It wants
to turn outward like a snake in old skin.
Give her the fur, the scales, the spots,
give her the rough tongue, spare rib, poison spit.
She pounds river stones against cranberries
for ink. She coaxes the liver to strain the sour.
Hold her and she will wrap your arm.
Crush her and she will soak your boots.
She is the sky’s closest relation. She makes blue
the color of a lamb’s shaved skin.
Dorsey Craft earned her MFA from McNeese State University where she read for The McNeese Review and won the Joy Scantlebury Award for her poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in CALYX, Crab Orchard Review, the minnesota review, and elsewhere. She is currently a Ph.D student in poetry at Florida State University.