“What Follows”

by Elizabeth Kane

An empty space gapes. Opens
its mouth with teeth of vertebrae,
teeth of blood of muscle, teeth
of ache. I paste the Lidocaine
over the scar. The space
reveals a crack behind the heart
of an Argonaut of a man, curling
his spine in disbelief at the cruelty
wrung from him like so many
feathers from the breast of a chicken.
Still, one day from the scar
and the stick of Lidocaine, I pull
a sterling silver ring
dinged into the perfect shape
of my little finger. Pale
and plain and queenly, I wear it
so it leaves a rut of smooth flesh
in a band around my pinky. I wear
its armor, it taking slice and bump,
bang and rasp, it becoming so thin
I dare not remove it, dare not
slip it soft and sticky from its marked
home on my finger, dare not
worry. I dream of a scalloped
breastbone guarding an aged heart.
The heart beats like a lion in a cage
of red skeleton, all below the ribs missing
but the spine, extending like a fish
tail into the lapping sea.