I have read the names of ghosts written on your back.
In the evenings, I kiss each one goodnight.
You keep your son’s broken heart locked in the
curve of your left side. Your right shoulder prays
I will be his new mother. A volume of painful
poems fills the back of your hand, spilling
into your cracked knuckles. Your fingers refuse
to write. And every muscle in your legs
is pushing the broken and the dead
up and out of their graves.
You recognize the faces of tortured women
trapped in the lower part of my abdomen.
You have met my lost brothers through
the ripples of my ribs across my heart.
You know the courage in the curve of my spine.
You know my knees have betrayed me many times.
You wish you had been there to catch me.
We have navigated our histories
and mapped it all out on our bodies,
knowing each other so well
that skin becomes nothing more
than a thin transparency
that we can never again
Kay Kestner’s work has appeared in journals since the early 1990s. She is a screenwriter, poet, and prose writer. Her work is an unapologetic combination of gentle grace and raw reality. She is the founder and former editor of Poetry Breakfast and has led writing workshops through the Ministry of Artistic Intent and at The New Jersey Poetry and Arts Barn. You can find more information about her work at KayKestner.com.