Being by Michael O’Neill

photo of snake skeleton

“snake bones” (image via Flickr user Chris White)

It was cold the day you touched me. Your hands entering

just below the ribs, opening the drawer inside me, pulling

it loose from its tracks, emptying the contents on the floor

and rifling through the chalk white bones in search of the

constellation spiraling through the atmosphere

of my carcass.


We are all descendants of millennia of dark matter, the

negative weight of dying stars reborn in the irises of human

bodies, each molecule gazing through a kaleidoscope of

repeat images, the rolling footage of flesh spinning from a

meat hook in a circuitous elliptical.


Scientists have spent lifetimes quantifying the kinetic

energy of a human touch, the confluence of your nerve

endings sending shockwaves through the grid of vertebrae

holding me together, and with a single suicidal synapse I

have the potential to crumble into a black hole of

shapeless parchment – tell me, where in the history books

does it teach you to act so negligently, your clasped hands

twisting and turning the false bottom of my heart’s chrysalis,

shaking free the scrolls of undiscovered worlds.


There are only two paths in life, yet both run parallel and

into your orbit. At the end of each day I unstitch my skin,

hang it in the closet, then lie on my back, staring at faraway

moons, my body drifting higher, higher in all of its


Michael O’Neill is a fiction and poetry writer residing in Chicago. His work has appeared in Literary Orphans, WhiskeyPaper, the Journal of Microliterature, Unbroken Journal, and Great Lakes Review, among others.