She stored every scrap in her body:
this secret between ribs, that trauma in a toe bone.
On went years of perfection, long polished fingernails at a good job.
The prevalence of surface.
She thought her disguise fit better,
pushing each weakness deeper and downer
until she had them buried under years, under skin.
But they were gathering strength while she slept.
The souvenirs began to turn on her,
stain seeping from the inside out.
Her bones hurt; her fictions became fevers.
Incurable memories multiplied inside her.
She needed transplants from people who spoke their stories.
Voice becoming medicine,
poison evaporating like an echo.
Her truth became a tumor that wouldn’t stop growing.
Stella Padnos-Shea is the author of In My Absence, forthcoming in 2016 from Winter Goose Publishing. Her poems have appeared in Chest medical journal, The Comstock Review, Lapetitezine.com, and ldyprts.tumblr.com, an online collaboration with jewelry artist Margaux Lange. Among Stella’s identities are poet, social worker, Mama, therapist, Brooklynite, and Scorpio.
This poem is not previously published.