When She Speaks, She Says
Alie Kloefkorn
          I			           awaken


                                                          !!! a terrific mess ! !  !          hungover    sucking  on   pennies

                      tears   and   snot
                        drool   into

                        my  ear		         as    if I’ve


                                      into           the           wind           I           wail

      the  wail  of  animals  and  children      wail

                                                                    as other
                                                                    release everythingeverything


                                                                                                   out     of                 me

on the kitchen floor
I decide I am a stranger
some woman who’s broken in
in search of a suitable
place to disintegrate. She leans against the cabinet and clutches a water glass with both hands. Her eyes are
swollen, her face hot; her weeping is making us dizzy.

I sit with her. I tell her about the frog in the YMCA parking lot when I was a kid, how a car tire flattened it tail to head so that its intestines spewed out of its mouth and how I still think about that a few times a year.

I tell her about my affinity for the verb “dust,” because it can mean both to apply and to remove dust, or a dust-like powder, to and from a surface. I wonder aloud if “gut” could also function in this duality.

When she speaks, she says,

I feel the belief   enter my body
the thoughts I have been battering   my brain with infiltrated
settled in flesh  and I learn   I didn’t really know what belief meant
until now  it makes me cry   and cry out makes me
heave weakens   my shoulders makes them shake
makes them feel papery and light   like crystal  ironically it feels like a purge
or a ridding an ugly cleansing  maybe   there isn’t room
and it has to replace something   can beliefs be dormant?
maybe it is a reawakening   maybe its last activity was in some past life
and I inherited it but am only now experiencing it as this person
Because I do feel like I know it.
But it is very old   Something of the earth
and not just mine.

Turns out all her tenets are garden-variety: I am

    alone I am
                                                                              not enough for
                                                                              anyone or
                                                                              for myself
                                                                              I do not
                                                                              belong in
                                                                              the world I
                                                                              do not

Frankly, I tell her, you’re a late bloomer. Most of us have committed to these truths by now. They live in our bones, in the flesh of our tongues, woven into our intestines. I myself keep them etched in my stomach lining and the soles of my feet. You might prefer to grease your throat with them, or steep your liver. Make them a home and find more worthwhile, less self-important concerns.

Her wail turns hack turns retch. The bathroom tile is cold on our knees now.

Be sure to compare it to exorcism, she spits.

Alie Kloefkorn studied English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Penn Review, Into the Void, Enizagam, and other journals. She lives and writes in Boston, Massachusetts.