This Small Skull Once Belonged

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“Skull” by Ben Francis is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.
Ben Francis/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

I have never felt connected to anything,

not even my own body. I am trying 

to remember the last time I felt 

I did not have to try, a time I was living

in a moment & not dwelling on another.

I am a chapel with no function. I am 

having difficulty with the calendar.

Everything tender was long ago sealed 

& spouted & redirected to a narrative

I constructed in lieu of closure. I am

reacting to things as they occur, only

later seeing the pattern & the constant

that I am: a shadow of death flickering

through a valley, feeding on fear.

I am starving myself to feed myself, 

eclipsing any rush of feeling 

with picture-in-picture analysis, 

folding in on myself until I am 

right back at the beginning of my problem.

I might as well be my mother yelling,

knocking doors off their hinges

with the power of my void. I need to learn

to avoid the impulses carved into me 

like the poem carved into the skull of Descartes:

This small skull once belonged to the great Cartesius,

as if it no longer does, as if he is no longer the skull,

as if he is no longer the separated body, as if he is

not both, the mind & the body separate but whole.

He lives inside his name. He does not need his name

across his forehead like he is the property of himself,

or like he is his own mark of the beast. 

Imagine carving into my soul, This small soul

once belonged to the great __________,

as if you were not attempting to break me

& dissociate me like so many more before you.

David Rawson is the fiction editor for South Broadway Ghost Society and is the author of Proximity and A Jellyfish for Every Name (ELJ Editions).