Monica Rowley teaches high school in Brooklyn, NY. Her poetry has appeared in the Irish literary journal The Ogham Stone; The Bread Loaf Journal; Yes, Poetry (online); and is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant and the Roxanne McCormick Leighton Fellowship for study at Bread Loaf.
From WTP Vol. VIII #3
Soon I’ll have the dead in my mouth
holding my teeth in place,
dental records the detectives might need to check
if I were to die an unspeakable death.
I think about this cadaver bone in my jaw:
What parts of a whole
did it lie in when it belonged to the living?
Was the body of its residence
a crook? A scribe? A ballerina?
Was its holder happy with his health?
Or did the woman-skeleton of this bone
cheat, in flesh, on her wife?
Will I change ever so slightly
after it’s grafted? Maybe
my atheist friends have it right:
dead when dead. No transmigration
of another sewn into common diseased gums
by the periodontist good at her science,
using the dead’s parts
to keep me whole.
As I tongue the new stitches, glibly calling on
my own Yorick, I think with hesitancy
this corpse bone is important—
the implanted evidence illuminated in the x-ray
of my skull. I decide I must add this small bit
of the dead to my soul.