My Body Is a Physical Space


I am in my body. I am my body. I

am more than my body, of course,


yet I must refuse those vapid

and condescending incantations


of the abled and fearful, telling me

not to be defined by my body.


This is my body.


This is where I live.


This is what cradles me

when my mind refuses sleep.


This is the prowler

that contains my restlessness.





We are all dying in our separate ways.

Life’s a life sentence, we joke, and it rings

true and loud, calling each hour.


We sit up in our hospital beds and look grateful.

We sit up at our computers and raise money

for the next surgery.


We try to make our life stories into something

that sounds worthy. It’s like those large cans

collecting money for kids’ cancer treatment


at the checkout of the gas station where

my dad worked one summer when I was

also a kid. We aren’t kids.


We don’t maintain that instant heartwrenchingness

for long into our sicknesses. If I lie back

and remember, I can taste that gas station.


I can remember filling a mug

with every flavor of soda, mixed.

It was awful. It was like love.





I worry that the cyborg is too much an institution, an illusion of the nondisabled, the superhero in the movie, the mixed martial artist, the bots who either make life easy or ruin everything. Yet I recognize the disabled who double as cyborgs.

Jillian Weise “Common Cyborg”


Do not contradict when I say

I’m half machine. I clasp

to me lovingly my robot parts.

Buried in breast and brain,


near to my heart. They steady

my beating. Oh you! Your

longing attempts at my

achieved intersections!


What half work, what nothing,

what water running through

wasted hands. Even your

superheroes do not know


the ways I am full,

filled up more than whole.

You ooh and ahh at their

impressive exoskeletons,


unaware of the human and

the pistons I hide under my skin.



Hilary Brown is a Pushcart-nominated poet and activist living in Oakland, CA. Their chapbook, When She Woke She Was an Open Field, is available from Headmistress Press. Their work can be found in The Labletter, Apt, The Ocotillo Review, and elsewhere.

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