Emma Bolden

Museum of the Body

First they hang each of your aches
from the eaves. Then the curator comes
with her stick pins, her white cards,

her typeset: head-, heart-, ear-,
belly-. The collectors start
small. They take your pinkie toe,

which you miss only in mornings
with the start of each starting step, you miss
only the feel of carpet under it.

They come for your skin slow
and in pieces. Soon you’re accustomed
to the look of muscle, the ruby

and the glint of it. Soon you admire
each white hint of bone. In the museum
the walls fill: a vertebra. Scapula. The pale

plain of ilium, ischium, the pubis
no longer embarrassing without its rough
shock of curls. There is a guide to lead

you from knee cap to talus bone. There
are words, finally. They explain: see here
the scar from a second grade bike wreck.

See here the thumb. See the nail asleep
in its bed. You are given headphones.
They tell you: here is the cranium,
mandible, the ear and all the words
it drummed: love and fear. Echo. Here the long
strands of hair you never asked to own.

Emma Bolden’s first full-length collection of poems, Malificae, was published by GenPop Books. She is also the author of three chapbooks of poetry: How to Recognize a Lady, published as part of Edge by Edge, the third in Toadlily Press’ Quartet Series; The Mariner’s Wife, published by Finishing Line Press; and The Sad Epistles, published by dancing girl press. Her work has appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, the Indiana Review, the Greensboro Review, Redivider, Copper Nickel, Feminist Studies, The Journal, Guernica, and on Linebreak.org. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University and blogs at A Century of Nerve, which you can find at emmabolden.com.