“Strip Search” by Justin Holliday

Strip me of my skin and search the fatty tissues
for evidence of who I might have been.
I want fingers inside prodding, unlocking
chambers, some secret, how I could allow you
to know me, this chest cavity you wish
to fill. You will empty me of liver, lungs, lost
memories like keys ground down,
fitting only your hand. The list is so long
I forget more than I should
remember. I want to give you
all of it. I’ve no use for the tricks
hidden under sleeves of arm skin, the trials
of my eyes seeing you, your face, your metal
instruments. In your hands I won’t be mortal.
Replace this cave you’ve mined
with a new laminated ID card, slick and protected
from mold and dull scissors. Sew it between ribs.
Stamp a new social security number,
bleaching the leg bone as rubber presses down, hard,
indelible, above the femoral artery, the last intimacy.
And, my identity thief, remake me
this body, this refuse, this shrine
you refuse to let go of.

Justin Holliday is an English lecturer and poet. His work has appeared in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Rag Queen Periodical, Freeze Ray, Fire Poetry, Lunch Review, and elsewhere.