I have poems stuck in places I can never reach –
you know that dip between the backbones?
I must have spread them all out onto my bed and fallen asleep with them still in the duvet –
you know the notches of the ribs?
I must have found them on the wind on a cold, February morning –
you know the bumps of the teeth?
I must have forgotten them on the floor –
you know the spaces between the toes?
I must have shoved them all into a shampoo bottle when I was running out of space –
you know the knots in the hair?
My mum used to tell me that you’d never feel clean unless you got every corner of the body with soap but know I just think you can only feel clean when you’ve got all the dust out of the stickiness of the brain
and my teacher used to tell us to ask for help when we can’t reach things but now I can’t bear someone else’s hands on the poems in my skin.
And I’m sure theres a word for this – perhaps it’s delusion – when you keep seeing bugs crawl over your flesh, but they have poetry taped to their beetle backs so I can’t wash them off.
And people say storm clouds pass but they drop down letters and the folds of my tummy are missing 8 vowels and the canyons in my ears need a few more ’S’s so I’d welcome the storm to stay.
And I know there’s a word for this, for finding objects with poetry written on them in other people’s homes but my Aunt has a tea set with a poem about fragility written in it’s cracks and my best friend has a diamond necklace with a poem about worth wedged between the silver plating and theres a word for it, I’m sure, but my kidney needs 2 more rhyming poems and my sister has 3 whole rhyming poems in the ridges of a glass tumbler she bought in France.
I know theres a word for seeing things that no one else can – for running up to little children with my hands like a cup to collect the sounds they keep dispensing, for stealing the tears of the weeping on a wooden chopping board and trying to carve them into hieroglyphics when I get home and my mum keeps begging me to stop digging my nails between the flesh and the peel of the orange like that but I can see Shakespeare’s lost sonnets down there and I can’t bear to have her eat The Bard.
And I know theres a word for seeing poetry in places where it shouldn’t be but I saw it once on the underside of a jet but I was wingless and slow and so I never caught it – so I know theres a word for it but I’ll just have to tell you that I have poetry in places I can never reach.