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Emily Shearer

Self-Portrait as a Melanoma

No one witnessed my monthly wound

once the scars had healed. I retrofitted my household

with architectural antiques, old doors and corniced coping stones

sloughed and buried, the whole of me

in situ, cancering in place but unyielding to direction.

A compass embedded in the map of me

I carted my dark history across a vulturous sun. Yuma, AZ,

Albuquerque, Amarillo. My freckles aren’t

anymore cute They could be

deadly. I spent a queen’s ransom on my skin to carve in it

the words to what the birds have none of: theory, age,

the way my eyes used to eat the camera lens. They haven’t lost

their thirst. Who sends for water? Mine

ain’t no more for the taking. I pan for it in blood

magic, I write it in ink across the lake, the stars for all and good

their own setting celestial sparks. We soak tree barks in the cells their cells call genesis.

In water is written the herstory of ark, of flesh, of what

cannot be torn from me. The clatter and the chime. It would have been

sublime, this story of my passport stamps, the time

I found a fountain in the woods, a close exegesis of the plot

of land I call my body, a composite of invisibilia,

a container, a safehouse, bonehouse, hollow hollow space for lanterns,

the kind that float and billow away wishes,

I don’t know what for.

*"I carted my dark history across" is taken from “Call My Name” by Melissa Febos

*"But the birds, I like to think, are having/none of theory." is taken from “Flocking Theory" by Claudia Emerson.


Emily Shearer is an ex-pat poet and yoga/French/writing teacher outside Houston, TX where she fights the power and ponders the Universe and how we got Here. Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart, shortlisted for the Judith B. McCabe Poetry Prize, awarded the University of Houston Robertson Prize (runner-up) and published in West Texas Literary Review, SWIMM, Clockhouse, and Ruminate, among others.

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