The Boiler

Victoria Lynne McCoy

DUMB LUCK

The car crashed. You were in it. You weren’t in it. Two died. The car crashed. No one was injured but you. There were soldiers on the side of the road. You were alone. You spent so long trying to unwrite your body but it’s the body that you’re left with. Until it isn’t. Your friends are gone. Your friends are called bodies. Until they aren’t. You were lucky. The car crashed. Two died. You weren’t in it that time. You don’t believe in luck. You share a bed with each coin’s flip side. You flipped the car and crawled out of the morning. No one died. The car crashed and you decided to stay home that night. You hate how obituaries say survived by like it’s lucky. The car spun upside down and you counted the clouds until the grass caught you. The car crashed and that glass wasn’t for you. You don’t believe in luck but what else are you left with? There were days you wished to disappear and didn’t. You choke on the luck of it. The car crashed. You slept through it. They died. You drove away and crashed into your life. You walked away from the crash site but the rest of it you’re stuck with. The car crashed. You keep waking up and every time they die. You crash and crash against the dumb luck of your body until you’re not sure how many crashes there actually were. The world spins and you keep counting the cracks in the windshield wondering what will catch you next, what it will try to break your lucky, dumb bones against.

 

REGENERATION

I gnaw my limbs off, one
by one. I am

scared and unstoppable.
The wet pavement smells of salt and creature

no matter how far I am from a body
of water. At Seaside Elementary,

the rain came as an invitation—
hundreds of earthworms would swarm

the gutters, squirm under the nails
of boys, reckless

with curiosity. If you slice a Planarian in two,
each half will bloom

into a separate, new body.
And isn’t this how we learn

to love, by seeing how close we can get
to destruction?

The only part of a shark
with this ability are the teeth.

I bite hard enough
for the marks to live in a man

until morning. I want to lose
a piece of me in the gamble

of his skin. I want to give
only what I can also keep.

The starfish can’t stop giving
its arms to the sea. Can’t stop

making itself new again. I want to swathe
myself in the limbs of the man

I came too close to not leaving.
Sometimes an arm sprouts from the crater

of a lonely shoulder.
Others, an entire animal grows

from the arm alone
to return the body it’s missing.

 


Victoria Lynne McCoy’s work has appeared in Best New Poets, Blackbird, The Collagist, Drunken Boat, Four Way Review, The Paris-American and Washington Square Review, among others. She earned her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Long Beach, California.