Michelle Spokes is a bisexual woman who is married to a man, mother of a daughter, and living in the suburbs. Her writing is published or forthcoming in Oyez Review, Storm Cellar, Penny, siren, Fireweed, and in the book 7 Veils. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Queens College.
My spine curves though you can barely see it from the outside. In the x-ray it’s a winding slate path. I should sleep on my right side to smooth it out. This river with a bend, this trunk grown crooked as if the sun hovered on one side too long before tilting west.
The gland in my throat curves in the other direction. The wand slides on jelly, measuring in ultrasound millimeters this bulge between my head and my heart. This pregnant pause somehow stuck in my throat. I should sleep on my left side so the swelling seeps into the other hemisphere. It’s like a golf ball sans pockmarks, this tiny balloon puffed like a scared fish or cat. Pussycat.
I was born with that more on the outside than in. Pink like lips pressed into a kiss. “You have an outie, that’s all,” MK told me a decade and change back, when she still lived here, when we’d start up in bathroom stalls, anonymous corners of busy bars, back seats: mostly hidden places.
“Like my belly button,” I said.
She died on my birthday this year. Far away in Florida. Only forty-one. She left my last text unanswered. That was her way. I should have visited. I shouldn’t have been oversensitive. I got my back up. Like a scared cat. Pussycat. Tender and pliable, like a baby bird, like chewed gum, like the wet and wrinkled wings of a butterfly just burst out of the cocoon.
The gland (I imagine it blue) in my throat should look like a butterfly, like the silhouette of a woman: bust, waist, hips. The isthmus, thorax, the spine down the middle. My spine should be straight. It isn’t. I’m not. Though you can barely see that from the outside.