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
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
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.