Tag Archives: Volume 20-4

Kwashiorkor
by Christine Degenaars

I am living and have lost
all my skin. I’ve taken to codeine, to cariprazine,

to the rushing sound blood makes in my ear
when I press against the pillow. Sometimes, I look

at something so hard I forget how to breathe.
I leave no space for taking in. I become round, bloated with

starvation. When I was ten, I wrote Vincent’s candle poem
on pieces of post it and hid them in the rooms of places

I’d visit. I imagined suitcases of yellow bits, each marked
by the body of a chewed pen cap. God said he is

what he is because there is nothing else
worth comparing to. I am a mixed tape of that stuff

that gets left in the subway. I am pieces of cardboard,
broken glass, the half-eaten something poking out of the trash.

When I was fifteen, I kissed a boy I didn’t want
to. He smelled like plastic and brown paper bags.

He sang Hard Luck Woman when he drove and when he called my name it sounded

like something that didn’t belong to me.
This morning, I stepped out of myself long

enough to see me as two. One of us slipped off
my clothes, the other turned my flesh upside down.

I took a shower. Wrapped in a towel, I made coffee;
naked, I stood in the kitchen. There was so much

me in that room, I could barely move.
I had stacked so many versions of myself, one

on top of the other, in the freezer for safekeeping that
I had left no room for my own body, hollow and swollen.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 4.

Christine DegenaarsChristine Degenaars has had work published in several journals, including KGB Bar & Lit Journal, Sundog Lit, and Hermeneutic Chaos. She is the recipient of two Bishop Kelleher Awards and an honorable mention for the Bennington Award. She currently lives in New York City.

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