Jessica Fischoff

My Body is a Library

An encyclopedia of past lives, a rib set up by an apple,
An architect of monsters, transatlantic airspace and the
Unsolvable mystery of why. My body is leather-bound,
A first edition dog-eared on S:
Serpents, Sheba, Queen of and subplots. The X
Torn out, all seven pages, as if to mark a spot.
Even with missing pieces,
What cannot be learned from reading
Can still be learned.

A catalogue of DIY projects, step-by-step
Walk throughs of where to go and where to begin.
Needlepoint and wood work,
Meditation and metamorphosis.
How to start a fire with nothing to burn.

My body is an atlas, the cartography
of expectation, destiny manifested
Into latitudes and boundaries,
Land to be cleared and claimed, named and fenced in.

My body is an almanac, wet spells, dry seasons,
The quilted winter spread so white between. All hands
And blisters, early risings, digging up roots and
Dispersing seeds. The stripping
Of thorn and thistle, the moon
On a summers night, as open as the fields beneath.

I’ve renamed every flower
For the women who came before me
I’ve rewired the plane, redrawn the key
And untied the ribbon from my neck
Without dropping my head at my feet.
If all it takes to lose myself is burning the history that
Brought me here, then hand me the match.
A story beginning with self-immolation
Doesn’t always end in ashes.



The Diagnosis

The Gardener heard only: You can live
As an orchid or die as a man.

First, said the doctor, we’ll have your legs.
Then prune your hands, and wrists,
Until your arms will be the severed
And barren roots of limbs. We will
Go on, as did the doctor, to electrify
Your heart, stitch bags to your organs
And stake metal to muscle that will refuse it.

You’ll be fitted with rubber hoses, pierced with
Needles and planted
into the plastic lining of a bed with no
Escape plan. When your tongue rots,
And you can no longer speak
You will have nothing left to say.

Still green-fingered and spade eyed,
The love-me-love-me-not predictions
Plucked freshly at his feet,
Against the bowed brigade of peonies,
And the incense of perfumed lilac
The Brimstone moth, flashing yellow twilight
Flew towards the gardener.
His body dangling from the pergola
Like fabled white wisteria
Settled so perfectly into the dewy afterglow.

Jessica Royce Fischoff is a poet living in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the Managing Editor at PANK, an Assistant Editor at Diode Editions and manages an Italian restaurant.