The following poem is an excerpt from the poem “Perihelion: A History of Touch.” The excerpts below are the third and fourth stanzas out of twelve in the poem. This poem is from the book Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) by Franny Choi. The original version of this poem is double justified but has been formatted due to the restrictions of this website. You can read the first two parts of the poem on a broadside given out at a reading by the poet on Wednesday, April 17th at 7:00pm in the RCAH Theater, in Snyder-Phillips hall.
Perihelion: A History of Touch
By Franny Choi
Like any girl, I pulled myself into shreds to test the rumor that
something with blood like mine could be halved and still whole.
And what did I learn? I buried myself all over the garden, but the
pieces only sprouted into new riddles: squid leg, spaghetti squash, a
jerking thumb. Their names still sounded like mine; everyone in the
same dress, chewing dirt to avoid each others’ eyes. I lay down next
to the one beneath the porch, hiding among the oyster shells. Don’t
cry, I said, but she cried anyway. Her tears fell straight into my eyes.
What a lesson—to watch them float back and forth between us until
we knew each one’s shape. Until we knew, finally, what to do with
Outside, the colors leapt from the trees. Here, inside, some new
word was blooming in my underwear—darker than I’d expected. I’d
expected something pink; a slow, sweet trickle. Not this wet tar,
treacle, dark, like the blood had been stretching inside me for years,
slow-building into a sticky chord, the first falling away. Soil’s been
watered; come play. First stuck, first gum, first hum of pollen,
calling in the bees and readying to wilt.
Find this poem online at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/144599/perihelion-a-history-of-touch