Poetry Set: Red Wire, Monsters, Slipknot
A.J. Odasso (Boston University, United States of America)
Boston Common, 2013. The test
results arrive. Internet geneticists
have decoded my fragility. Blink
at the likelihood of psoriasis. Hold
breath as BRCA1 & 2 show clear,
but say: Other mutations may exist.
Time bomb, this body, weeded already
of cysts, endometrium, womb. My chest
fills with doubt, knowing what comes next
will always be the question. My thoughts
turn to introspection: The parts I want least
are poison-coded in my genes.
Bleeding, I do not miss. Benign aberrations
are far behind me now. What I must hide
concerns prescience of danger: My last wish
is the one extraction most likely to be denied.
Your progress through six months of poison
begins. Three days in, you have migraines
to beat the band; three weeks on, your hair
is almost gone. How fast our cells slip
through sheerest trauma is the catch
to our warp and weft. Surgeons say
my healing’s too swift; oncologists
prod at your lymph nodes’ refusal
to rest. What monsters we are,
mother, remains to be seen—
in the end, what is a wound
but a door through which
Boston Common, 2015. The PCP-ordered test
comes back conclusive. Medical geneticists
have documented my alterity. BRCA variants
still absent, but another mutation does exist:
CHEK2 is what I carry, and it harbors
a risk too high.
Blink at likelihood of that lump
returning, at the knowledge of alleles
gone awry. Time bomb, this ribcage
strained with doubt. What comes next
is the weight I must ferry. My chest
comprises the ever-unwanted sum
of my parts: This extraction
a debt as-yet unpaid.
Bleeding, I will not miss once
the cutting is finished. Absence
of benign aberration abounds: Denied
safe passage, grant my fiercest wish.
A.J. Odasso’s poetry has appeared in a number of strange and wonderful publications, including Sybil’s Garage, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, Cabinet des Fées, Midnight Echo, Not One of Us, Dreams & Nightmares, Goblin Fruit, Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, Farrago’s Wainscot, Through the Gate, Liminality, inkscrawl, and Battersea Review (just to name a few). Her début collection, Lost Books (Flipped Eye Publishing, 2010), was nominated for the 2010 London New Poetry Award and for the 2011 Forward Prize, and was also a finalist for the 2011 People’s Book Prize. Her second collection with Flipped Eye, The Dishonesty of Dreams, was released in August of 2014. Her two chapbooks, Devil’s Road Down and Wanderlust, are available from Maverick Duck Press. She holds degrees from Wellesley College and the University of York (UK), and she is currently a 2015 – 2016 Creative Writing MFA (Poetry) candidate at Boston University. She also serves as Senior Poetry Co-Editor at Strange Horizons magazine. You can find her online here and on Twitter.