I’m a smaller woman than I used to be
and generous with myself pouring coffee
licking banana bread batter
staining my hands with graphite
I cherish carbon-on-carbon
the kind of action you’d like to see
shedding cells mixed
with mite dust and pollen
my castoff life is
leftovers I forget
to slough off in the mornings
I’m trying to reabsorb the world
take on mass and give my flesh
a thrill from the inside out—
those gaps where you’re still there
digging in, dirty fingernails and all
that suppleness attempting
to push away and down
DO NOT CONSUME RAW
At Target I browse the seasonal produce, eyeing
the warning label on the shrink-wrapped rhubarb.
I think about tearing open the package right there
and chewing the stalks like a cow with her favorite cud.
Those precautions signal the kind of rage in me
that ends with me screaming in my car. Sometimes
I let the man I’m seeing in there with the sound
to see if he’ll stick around. They all have—it’s usually
something, or someone else. I always have another
lined up next, like I’m playing pinball and have
50 cents handy for each silver ball.
A thousand quarters, that many scoreless turns.
I push the button as many times as I can. I poke holes
in the plastic. I want the rhubarb to age, the balls to keep
moving. I’m tired of trying to pause time. One of these
days I’ll stop with the night cream, face masks,
hemp lotion, argan oil, BB and CC and SPF. I need
exposure to speed up the process. Rinse. Repeat.
Alyse Bensel’s poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Zone 3, burntdistrict, New South, Bone Bouquet, and elsewhere. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks Not of Their Own Making (dancing girl press) and Shift (Plan B Press) and serves as the Book Reviews Editor at The Los Angeles Review. A PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Kansas, she lives in Lawrence.