I arrive on a metal table, my underlife
flooding the screen. I am famous—the entire
picture, edge to edge, unseemly bloom,
a van Dongen with too much rouge.
Take a piece from the blackened whole
and spread me under a microscope.
I’ll be the one wearing flowers, a hand-sized
hibiscus rippling behind my ear like
a warning with sequins and foghorn:
abnormal cell cluster at 9 and 4.
A clock in my breast and the seconds
twitch, inching forward like scalpels.
My scintillating cilia full of frill, thrill
of the grotesque, its misshapen promise.
The doctor says, Pick a shape for your scar:
a frown or grin, incised across my heart.
Now smile for the giant eye of God.
This poem is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.