my history as


My History As
Emily Skaja

In my history, I was bones eating paper
or I was paper eating bones. Semantics.

I lived in a narrow house;
I lived with a man who said

You fucked up your own life, who said
I could never love someone so heavy.

The place was brick on brick
with iron grates covering the windows—

rowhouse cage, South Philly. I was learning
how some of us are made to be carrion birds,

& some of us are made to be circled.
Somewhere in this education

I stopped eating. Held up my hands
to see if my bones would glow in the dark.

My boat name could have been
HMS Floating, Though Barely.

Meanwhile I had a passion for cartography.
Not leaving, just coloring the maps.

I covered all the walls with white paint, whiter paint, spiraling out— a weather
system curling over water.

I always drew the compass rose flat.
I was metal-blue, I was running my mouth

like a bathtub tap. A bone picked clean of particulates.
Everything has some particular science.

By its nature, a vulture can’t
be a common field crow, for instance.

Look at the wings, look at that hard
mouth, look at the feet.

When I tell my history, I can’t leave out
how I hit that man in the jaw,

how I wasn’t good at mercy,
how eating nothing but white pills & white air

made me unchartable—
I can’t skip to the end just to say

well it was fragile & I smashed it
                                   & everything’s over, well now I know things

that make me unlikely.
What am I supposed to say: I’m free?

I learned to counter like a torn edge
frayed from the damp. That’s how I left it.

Leaving the river, leaving
wet tracks arrowed in the brush.