“I lost my grip. / I balanced it on a piece of paper.” – Crystalfilm, Yukimi Nagano I can’t turn my head right, salute the angel recording good deeds: Hey. You must be idle lately. “I’m missing my mind,” I say. My real laugh. My scream. A gold compass gifted while infant. A gold earring in the shape of an egg. I lost my mother’s pineapple necklace. She lost her syrup scent. My mouth. Every few months, I feel it retreat. At the corners. I can’t tell the difference between incense dust, a rabbit pellet, Is it food or waste? and the moon. It’s all ash. I lost my sense of direction. I lost my sense of the sun. I didn’t know which way to pray until an overweight housefly showed me. I forgot which burner I kept the kettle on. My husband kept moving it, so I lost my marriage, too. Over thirty pounds; my linen slacks but not the jacket; my cleavage; Even my insteps jiggled when I chased buses. my sense of time; my ability to run after things; a desire to set things on fire; an interest in stealing. I stole whistle cookies, root beer. Not men. I lost my interest in stealing away. I mean: being stolen away. Once I climbed a poolhouse wall. I wanted to see water from above. I tore my fingers. They peel every few years. My mother says I made my fingers black er. At their joints. I started to climb a man but I think he was climbing, too. Like pools, I wonder if water looks better in blue eyes. I made my heart an indoor inflatable and drop-kicked men who lingered. We bounced all over the place. I jumped off the top of my heart onto them. Only I had access to the second floor. I’m losing my understanding of metaphors. I blink at allegory: Of course Cain had to one-up his brother. We all want our harvests accepted. Sometimes we cut down men. My ability to cry. So the floors springs pools with no source. I blink. Doorframes drip. I blink. The fridge leaks three times, stops when my landlord observes. It must be quantum physics, I say. Is my house supposed to be my self? If so, they’re turning the water off tomorrow. When I look at the gristle on my heart, I fraction. In a trinity-fold bathroom mirror, especially at night, my recursive selves are tinged green. I’d like to call myself a of ferns but I’ve had difficulty with vocabulary for living things, thriving.
Ladan Osman earned a BA at Otterbein University and an MFA at the University of Texas at Austin. Her chapbook, Ordinary Heaven, appears in Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press, 2014). The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) is the winner of the 2014 Sillerman First Book Prize. Her work has appeared in Apogee, The Normal School, Prairie Schooner, Transition Magazine, and Waxwing. Osman has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem, and the Michener Center for Writers. She is a contributing editor at The Offing and lives in Chicago. More info at ladanosman.com Twitter: @OsmanLadan https://www.