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She bends toward the light
a serpent with her arms outstretched and her torso twisted
I watch her spine untangle beneath her skin as the muscles lining her bones expand
I wonder what it is she reaches for

Her mouth is sewn shut
she is forty-five years old but still a child,
she is lost here, in this world of bending and contorting,
three children have escaped her womb
and her joints have slowly fused themselves back together
as if her body is the Earth
and all the plates are crashing into one another

that was the diagnosis that stole her limbs
when she tore the life from her body under the sterilized blade of the scalpel
that was when the blood stopped working
and her womb was empty
one ovary left to demarcate the space in which life was once created
we all knew the space where her womanhood had been
and when we leaned in close to kiss her,
we could smell the iron on her skin

No, there was no answer
not for a long time.

We all watched her as she grew sick
the iron was there, hiding,
but there was no answer for the pain,
only misdiagnosis
she bent until her hands were swollen
but the culprit was in the meat
and her flesh stretched under the weight of the pain
and youth showed itself as a fleeting phenomena

She lost five years in waiting rooms—
waiting for the epiphany that might return her days
there was a silence in the findings,
a subtle acknowledgement to a faulty gene
carried by her mother,
gifted by her father
and she wept the first time they drained the blood from her

No longer could we smell the iron on her breath
but the resentment still lingered like an ugly animal
limping on three legs
its own flesh rotting as it drew closer.

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