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Certain Seams

By Jill Khoury


The boy across the street points at me and lisps—now I know what they mean in books
when they say children lisp. He wears a red and white striped t-shirt, addresses my friend who
walks beside me. I ask people to please walk on my left side. It’s the eye that’s not completely dead
I say. They always move over. The boy addresses my friend with her blonde hair braided at
the sides of her head. The boy asks my friend—freckles on her shoulders, her forehead—a
question. It’s the first day of summer and she looks like summer sun at noon, my friend. I
am the fathomless white sky of winter. I fold in and in, like this cane I use. The boy asks Can
she see? I flinch but say nothing. Again: Can she see? My friend says to me he’s asking if you can
see. I don’t know how to speak to children this small. Their manic pop and dodge through
my visual field. Their penetrating questions.


To find the right vibrations to make sound = swallowing ice, clouds, outer space.
articulate against a current, a watery pressure.
                                                                            I should be drowning. Instead I—

Certain seams crack, billow open.


Increased occasions like this with the boy = crying more after.
I hate 1) myself 2) everyone else.

Sadness flows out of me, according to my guru. I imagine secreting it, like oilslick.

Diving into the river open-mouthed <-- recurring dream. Speaking in synthesized voices <--
recurring dream. Speaking through the hole in my neck from where my head is missing <--
recurring dream.


Like the way my nerves weave a fiery net. Like the way I want my psyche to be smooth like
metal on metal. Like the pain of this particular burning. Or the way this new cane tip rolls
across the ripped-up sidewalk.

A little bit, I yell across the street. In my neighborhood people close boundaries. The child
asks my friend, can she see? I don’t know how to answer. I want her to answer instead.

Added: Monday, July 21, 2014  /  Khoury's poem tied for Third Place in the Split This Rock 2013 Poetry Contest. We are grateful to Mark Doty, judge of the 2013 contest.
Jill Khoury
Photo by Michael Higgins.

Jill Khoury earned her Masters of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Sentence, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Harpur Palate, and RHINO. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice by Breath and Shadow: A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature, and has a chapbook, Borrowed Bodies, from Pudding House Press.

Other poems by this author