The day I became a definition, I sat
on white paper, cloaked in a gown
thin as my sinew and skin, shaking,
a mere apparition.
They call it
median arcuate ligament syndrome,
a name I can barely pronounce, its
harsh syllables impressed against
my lips. I wonder how the med students
wrap their breath around the words,
recite all the diseases with their
typewriter tongues, the terms that will
replace their patients’ names. Those
doctors always said I had tiny veins,
told me to make a fist the size of the
plums my mother peels.
She knives around the pits. Slices
golden flesh to reveal a whole seed.
I watch the juices slip down her forearm.
Waxed fruit splitting open, unearthed
like a wound.
I am fourteen. My breath stammers the
number of times I’ve stayed in a hospital
like a voice dripping punctured
sonnets. Air grows stale when you’re
confined to four plastered walls,
caustic and calcimine. Back then,
I wanted liberation. To stop wearing
this body as a bone-house.
I shiver on the table, my thoughts
the blood spilt on the blanched paper
beside me. With each prick I’m reminded
of the fleshy fruit, whose wisteria
hues I once let bleed in a pale palm
when I was no river thin wraith.
Here, I imagine peeling myself
from seven years of pain and needles
and false labels from sharp tongues
uttering empty syllables,
searching a skeleton in blinding light
for the things they can name. Here, I
allow knives to slit belly, like the fish
partitioned to the bone. Let hands take a
fraction of this body, birthing a scar
Understand, I am no definition. I bite
into a plum, its juices forming veins
larger than mine. And hope that scar
Rachel Brooks is a high school junior at Christian Heritage School in Trumbull, CT, where she is editor-in-chief of the literary magazine. She is also a Genre Editor for Polyphony Lit and writes articles for her local newspaper. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
*This poem was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2020 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and was previously published in their online gallery.*