Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

The Body Apologizes for Almost Everything

Leslie Adrienne Miller
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 84, No. 4 (Winter 2010)

For overriding your good sense,
for tormenting you with hungers,
addictions, fevers and pox,
for my failure to flood at the touch
of one who could have made you
happier, for the lateness of the hour in
which I finally gave up
the egg, for the contractions (hardly
God’s punishments but my own
prodigious inventions, meant
to let you know who would always
be in charge), for the ligaments
I sprang apart, for the stone I wedged
in your breast, for the arches
I collapsed and the spine I bent
like a hanger, for the spasms
to remind you that luck and fate
have nothing on me, for the hard edges
you translated into the mind’s silly dream
of supremacy, for the bright welts of itch
I raised each spring of your childhood,
for the burning of the milk against
the rips I opened under the child’s
first teeth to bare the seethe beneath,
for the bones I am whittling to air
now, the nails that flake like shale,
for the roil in your blood at the sound
of a laugh on another continent,
for the storms of heat drenching
your pillow, for the fine lattice
I etch over the backs of your hands.
Above all, for casting you in the way
of so many who desired me
while you were mere afterthought,
for the consequent howl of heart,
the course of havoc I’ve wreaked
when you couldn’t get me close enough
to what I made you want, then need.
What did I care that they would disappoint?
I had what I required, and you, my girl,
I made you free.