How to Fix a Dancer When it Breaks

You didn’t think I was capable
of grace like this against your bull
horn temper breaking china. But I learned
to swallow your sound like a wide mouth
cave brimming with bats.

There’s a tightening around the gussets
of your performed tenderness when you ask me
to lean forward. I feel three fingers
marking the ridges where you’ve traveled,
cervical spine C2 to C7.

The first vertebra is indestructible. C1: Ring-shaped
atlas that hitches to the skull. A joint
that lets me nod yes when the needle goes in
and numbness trickles down the crook of my back
we don’t speak of. For now it’s enough to be gentle

knowing the stage lights. It’s enough to know
that excess force could tug
my column’s alignment off. Avoid break-
age, avoid split endings. Clean slate, you said.
As easy as snuff cloth dipped in accelerant

wiped across my screen face. Restart, erase
you dipped like lures in the coded pools
between my bones. But agreeing is different
from believing because you’d never really
forgive me for seeing the worst

you. No need to bandage up
the injection site but you do it anyway.
Roomy habit like an old sweatshirt
install. Then your eyes collide
with mine as if to answer

the question. A reaction not unlike comets
passing over horizons and curtains rising
to greet the camera. Wayward wires hang from the lens
and threaten a noose. What necks would break
reaching for the bright cupped sound

of their applause? Life begins in the joints
and facets, yanked cords and pulley systems.
Lumbar and sacral spine spindle. Bear it, you said.
And I did. That beauty rotating on the axis
of what the body bends and unbends.


Genevieve DeGuzman

Genevieve DeGuzman was born in the Philippines, raised in Southern California, and graduated from Columbia University. Her most recent speculative work also appears in Abyss & Apex, Flyway, Liminality, LONTAR, Reed Magazine, and Strange Horizons. She is a finalist for the 2018 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Prize, a finalist for the 2017 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize, and a winner of the 2017 Oregon Poetry Association’s New Poets Contest. She lives in Portland, Oregon where she works on perfecting her hygge. You can find her on Twitter @gen_deg.

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