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A Genius Made

Sometimes big machines take us places. Gravity ripped open,
sewn up another way. The sky the color of batting. Well you say
What do you need? I myself my leg torn off. My chest ripped clean. Excuse, excuse excuse
me.

When young we staged plays. You: boy in grandfather's hat. Me: waitress
wearing robe, bearing platter, bearing bowls. Time was lighthearted.
Raised among flowers, jostling shoulders. The tests we took we won. If not, how manage I be
here, lecturing?

Scion. Horse fragment. Hobble-head. At your birth, the newspapers cried
Not cried Again. The hospital room flattened by the tools which had pried
forth you. The mother sought to sleep. Spectators gave way. Dark, diminished moon.
Scudding.

This your hour. Scurf-covered. I was under the cabinet, I was under the nurses,
the folds of their rank, their medicinal skirts. Lit upon by the stinging bee:
you're already you, you're already not me. Instructions dispensed from a hand-cranked tin box whose
inhabitant startles

up and ghoulish music rings. Be brave! Outside, wind accompanied the clapping sticks,
the congratulatory motions of the trees. It would be all right. There was a tunnel laid
before you, laid before me. It was a flue; a shining. A conflagration. It was a way of following just shy
of inevitably.

What do I need? Answer: what most wasted? You have the profile of a native people.
Undo the strings that bind us to our seats. Walk down the aisle, ramp, the cattle way.
Look: a view unobscured by wing. Plucked gray. The sky odors and frills releasing. Cursed.
Fade.

—Corinna Vallianatos



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