Thirteen. Hatched from foam-
lined plastic that guided the vine
of my spinal cord towards five o'clock
dinner and an hour-long breath.
The other minutes were bathed in sweat,
heat-rash and eczema like blusher
for breasts. Came with a starter package
of undershirts and a book
about a girl curved worse. Its cover
announced another work, tender story
of a cheerleader and her amputated foot.
I had lost nothing, just grew a little off-
center. At night I learned sleeping
is a skill, and best positions were bent
knees, arcs to left, shifted organs. Woman
was not a word I yet had said, and now
I latched behind the back, was strapped
into myself. I seemed to wear a coat's
hang-tag: Made of genuine leather.
Yet, that cast did smooth my stomach,
enlarge hips as if for child-birth, earn itself
a wardrobe and seamstress for the holes
it bore in clothing. I wonder now myself—
what must it have been like
to tap the body as if it were a door?
To live geometry, decreasing obtuse
angles to accommodate lungs, diaphragm?
Like my parents, who mourned their girl's
girlhood, did I marvel at the science? I admit
to open-mouthed fascination when
the plasterer made a mask of me,
then formed a brace from its mold.
I almost forgot how I clapped
my hands at first sight of leather loops,
rubbed the steel of hook and eye,
whispered in a simple voice—
I must give it a name.