Still Life with Pronoun and Scalpel


With this blade, I must trim you

from the meat of my stories. Now

I will stand next to a genderless friend


watching Prince strip Little Red Corvette

down to one unplugged guitar. I water down

the weekend we spent on Topsail Island


until it’s me, a mixtape, and an indefinite

pronoun riding shotgun. Every plural

becomes singular—no one remembers


the motel room in Columbus

whose reek of secondhand smoke

and lavender potpourri


would not wash from my hair. It is like

tearing the ligaments that bind my arm

to its socket. Look how biography


dangles useless at my side. I’ve got to dodge

the discrepancies, stop talking so much,

lean away from where your collarbone


should be. I’m re-recording those years

and saving the sound bites. Let me believe

it can be clean. I keep having that nightmare


where all my teeth fall out when I tap them,

which is supposed to mean

I’ve allowed things to slip from my mouth


that I should have held in. My neighbor says

that a dream of losing teeth

means you are telling lies and I grin back


with empty gums. These revisions

are labored, like your breathing

when we climbed Chimney Rock,


which of course is a fiction

because I was there alone,

no lover on the radar at all.

Christina Stoddard

Christina Stoddard is the author of HIVE, which won the 2015 Brittingham Prize in Poetry (University of Wisconsin Press). Her work has appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, storySouth, Tupelo Quarterly, DIAGRAM, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Christina lives in Nashville, TN where she is the managing editor of an economics and decision theory journal. Visit her online here. and on Twitter at @belles_lettres.