Joanna C. Valente

Body Within Body

The lights turned off and the sea wasn't outside your window.
The G train screeched to a stop, the conductor not you said
there are aliens with you when you sleep. At 5:30 AM
someone comes into your bedroom and they are not alive

but you are not scared even though you should be and you
have sex the way a ghost would but you are not a ghost.
Before you get up, you ask, how does dying feel? Maybe
it's easier to eat a dead corpse than to build a new human

so now you understand the use of color in a Monet, the same
way to deconstruct a building, quit a job, masturbate in the arms
of a girl you love but haven't told her you love her yet. You hear
someone say living is the energy of someone else's memory,

like that time you went to the Museum of Natural History
with your dad and both of you walked from exhibit to exhibit
trying to study humanity before humanity existed, before manic
panic could turn brown hair blue, and what does it even mean

to be American but not American?

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