In middle school–
Marilyn Manson t-shirt donning,
long, dark hair veiling,
rubber bracelets queuing up to my elbow–
one could find me settled into a desk like a dark-cloaked tick;
embedded in my own head.
When the class bell rang, I continued sitting there,
doing whatever I was doing, be it
drawing a half man / half fish in the margins of my Spanish book;
digging crumpled up, late slips out from my pockets;
or coiling the wire binding of my perforated notebook back
through its holes, because in the hallways
was corkscrew anarchy and that
I couldn’t curl around my finger.
My notebook’s spine:
that I could restore.
So I finished braiding my hair,
slowly wrote down the homework in perfect script,
neatly laid my books on top of each other
in order of width before loading the stack into my backpack;
the largest cover— Biology— at my back.
I liked to imagine this principle of everything
having something of the same shape, only smaller, inside of it.
This Matryoshka doll physics made everything fit. I listened
to the chatter and movement just outside the door
that could exist simultaneously yet regardless of
my being there. It never escaped me
that I had somewhere to go. My heart
yardstick reprimanded me
by slapping anxiety against my chest.
Why did no one seem concerned with the loose pages,
all out of order,
getting stuck to the bottoms of their zoo?
With carefully placing all that breath?
With the half-thoughts left failed
because the clock said jump? It takes time
to create those gift boxes that perfectly fit into other gift boxes,
to carefully place the organ into the game board of that Operation man’s belly,
to find a casket to fit one’s grief,
to locate a me-minus-one space
in the page break between classes.
Some ten years later, on a new hemisphere,
I still stall,
circle the drain of my bedroom in the morning—
coiling through perforated Matryoshka Doll Logic,
as if spiraling will bind me to time;
force me to move forward along with it.