Imprints ~ Mark Schoenknecht


The incision across her abdomen
Almost fully disappeared.
She circles a finger in the air,
Imitating the umbilical cord’s coil
Around the neck,
The way the room spun with the news.

What do we say
To such incomprehensible suffering?
That’s life, perhaps, and perhaps by that
We mean life on a planet, turning,
And the moon—itself born of Earth—
Floating dead in the sky.

Sometimes, she’d cycle through her scars,
Pointing and detailing their origins.
I’d follow along,
Pressing my lips to each one,
Astonished by the body’s healing,
By the radiant gestures of her hands.

How is it that I told her No
When she asked if those scars were beautiful?
As if she wanted a meditation on ankles
Gashed by rusted piping,
Or an aesthetic argument for wrists
Blistered on electric griddles.

All these years later,
And I still circle back to that night,
To her crying on the bed.
What can I say?
That’s life, perhaps,
And perhaps by that I mean

That what I know of myself is memories,
A snake discarding its skin to survive.