Reversals: Nine Months In: May 11, May 12

“Will you be okay alone?” you asked.
“Yes,” I mumbled. Didn’t know you meant forever.
You backed away, out the door, crab-walked backwards
like a raninid, reversing down the hall
as if we had never met.

Backed down the stairs, steady
your full feet of memory
stepped onto the sidewalk backwards
into the brick entranceway splattered in deep red paint
from your neighbor’s crazy, angry boyfriend.
The paint quickly peeled itself up and disappeared.

Traipsed backwards through the barren tenement
happy, smile enormous, waving
at the lurching, leering gray woman in her blue sack dress
who smoked over the rusty garbage can.

Smiled at the greasy, spindly Norwegian carpenter
with trembling, grinning dog and fenced-in yard
one who rarely spoke, backwards further to your tiny red car.
Its dangling, taped bumper lifted itself up, bumped itself out
as if it had never been hit.

Plucked your keys
from your pocket—no rummaging
Remembered right where they were
as if your memory had never
been wiped by shock treatments.
Unlocked the door and started engine.

Reversed car and drove backwards all the way
to the pond, content, as if your boys had never been taken.
Sat at the picnic table near the edge of the pond
smoking, admitting the sun
as if there had never been a stygian night crushing you,
as if the moon’s nocturnal sadness
had never smothered your nights,
nor mother(s) wound laid bare.

Enjoying the summer’s warmth and trusting
as if it were a kind mother’s soothing breast
had never deferred to winter’s bone
as if you had never left
your sandy South African home,
as if the home were a home.

Enjoying the liberty of your smoke
as if no body lading
as if no body missing
as if no body body
as if never postpartum-depressed
as if you never, ever thought about death.

Your eyes closed—your eyes closed—
easy—dream-slipping, you drifted to South Africa
through Knob Thorn trees, waving to your Oopa
who never died, and the monkeys
who never stole your ripened fruit.
You brightened at the site of your nanny
who never left you to be a sangoma, her brown eyes smiled
you nestled inside her woven backpack, lingered a bit
then escaped, eased like wind past your father, hand wagging
teeth still intact, floated towards your mother
sitting alone in her green darkened room.

Without a second thought or word, you dashed into her Womb
as if you had never known the cruelty of women—or men—or been
          knocked up

You crawled up into her familiar void
warm black burst open, siphoned you from This
You / a seedling / innocent / into your gush of white



Koss is a queer Midwest writer/poet/painter/multi-something-illustrator. Her work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, was anthologized in the Exquisite Corpse Reader by Black Sparrow Press, and is forthcoming in Spillway. She has a hybrid book coming out from Negative Capability Press next year.