The Boiler

Clare Paniccia

VESTIGE
       
           —For B

The body splits, and I remember when
           I was a child and there was no such thing
                      to stifle air, no singular blade to cut through

hide—Only an idea of ache far off
           in a corner, a dark strand tucked between
                      flowerbeds or poured into the vase by

my grandfather’s grave. In sleep
           you turn, revealing the mark, the divot
                      on your back where they’ve lifted out

sourness, the golden fat, left the skin
           to replenish and burn an impossible cell.
                       I came to face it first in your mother’s eyes

when she saw the mottled dip, knew
           she envisioned her son taut and stern,
                       a man not waiving to the arc of chance,

and now—My fingers trace over
           the fold of it, feeling bombs beneath my
                        nail beds, the hot crater of life busy in

a hunger that descends down toward
           your spine, the core of you. Were they
                         always there, those particles of carbon,

of blood, their membranes fiercely turning—
            or, what they say: metastasizing as I gripped
                          your shoulders, sucked from you a ripe seed,

waiting. A vestige of error. I want
            to stoop down to your mother’s child
                          and smooth out the wrinkle on his scapula,

rend the root before it takes. Pattern
            the stars in any other way if only to keep
                          his body’s form as it grows into you, your

figure, the sharp edges of our circumstance
             rushing fast ahead.

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Clare Paniccia was born and raised in upstate New York and is currently a PhD student in poetry at Oklahoma State University. In 2015 she was a finalist for both the Janet McCabe and Slippery Elm poetry prizes, and in 2016 her chapbook manuscript Threaded Daughter / Threaded Child was a finalist for the Wells Press Chapbook Contest. Her work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Superstition Review, Radar Poetry, Puerto del Sol, Best New Poets 2015, and elsewhere.