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The Body, Its Message

Rebecca Cross



Like childbirth, it hurts, but is a necessary art.
Skin wants to be marked, by freckles, a lover’s teeth.
I gave mine the sacrament of needle and ink.

What you see on my skin is what I want to preserve.
The birds on my forearms cuckooing, wood whites
at my temples folding, unfolding. On my wrist a doll

I have failed to name, at my throat a necklace
of knotted hair. The vines on my calves start their ascent.
The green snake at my waist asks its question.

On my stage is a couch and a table, a bottle of wine,
a Chinese screen from which I emerge. I hand
my visitors a planchette and show them my back.

Left shoulder, Yes, right shoulder, No. The alphabet
over my ribs. They learn what they need to, then let
the ghosts guide their hands to Goodbye.

Every love is performance, every performance
is love. When they come close I kiss them,
slide my tongue into their ears. I do this because

I am sorry for them, to be so easily unmoored.
They stay to watch me tune the radio over my heart,
lean closer to hear through the static a voice.

The Tattooed Woman

Rebecca Cross works as an editor in Vermont. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Woven Tale Press, Breath and Shadow, and Always Crashing.

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