My mother told me I was a sociopath
because You don’t like touching, unable
to imagine it was her musky skin,
dust-dry lips that made me shrink.
She’d slap my head and demand
kisses on lips—even in Kindergarten
I had a fathoming
of what incest was. Burned something
fierce when I spiraled my father’s
oiled hair into two spikes
and said, I’m making you
horny. How does a child know
such things, isn’t shame
learned or is it something seedy
and genetic? Like my mandibular
tori, bone growths
filling my mouth like cement, but still
unable to stop the fattening
and the disgraces falling out.
They needled ink between my joints, filled
my bone spaces up
like an octopus
before the MRI machine swallowed me,
shaking, a gaping coffin. This must be
what it’s like to die. Lights too bright
to rest, strangers skirted like children,
and I’m still adding up the costs
in my broken head. These doctors
with their expensive machines
and too-sharp tools hover high
and murmur close—guessing
at the mystery while they fire
up the darkest crevices of my insides.
These secrets, buried fast,
had bloodied my cuticles, branded
shame into my hippocampus.
Is it worth it, the revealing? Or better
to go quiet and un-kicking,
let the working parts rock me
hard, straight to the forgetting.
Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet and novelist. She’s the author of seven collections of poetry including the forthcoming Savagery, the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, the forthcoming Drag Me Through the Mess, as well as Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo as well as the novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded numerous poet-in-residencies posts, including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in Poetry. She is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at www.jessicatynermehta.com.