The year before my wound
my brother had a wound

He’d stepped on a nail
that cut open his foot

He walked on it and went
to school on it

One night he woke
crying out

my brother who never
called for anything
filled the dark of my
door with his begging

He was seated at
the top of the stairs
pushing himself down
with his hands
I must go to the hospital
I must go

He was in the ICU
for weeks with
toxic shock syndrome

The illness of poisoned blood
For girls I thought
when tampons stayed
inside you too long

My wound was wide
held open with a row
of thick metal staples

like legs straddling
both sides of a black river
so it could drain

I looked inside it
What poured
out of it was god’s
disgust leaving
pouring whatever
left me
For weeks
the wound was open

I came late to my own life
I carried the secret
for the mother
not the father
Though that was the one
You asked about:
Why have you never
mentioned him
Not one time
Not ever

I carried the wound
without knowing
and did its work

With my appendix burst
I went to the home of a friend
The wound so wide
I didn’t know if it was real

We kept
the poisons inside us
as long as we
conveniently could

but not willing to die
we both called out
a year apart
on the stairwell

to go to the hospital
the body knows
when it might die
its puncture like our mouths
shut so long
the way children
behave to survive
the way children agree
to whatever pact
is offered
like god’s pact
with his son
who cried out
with holes in his body
why have you
where are you
and it’s so arrogant to
say so in this poem
but if it is not for us
to lean on the story
then what is it for
since god’s hand hardly
touched us at all

Jessica Cuello