photo of snake skeleton

Being by Michael O’Neill

(Please rotate your handheld device to landscape mode to provide maximum width for each line.)

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.

Lead image“snake skelton” (via Flickr user Chris White)