Kara Dorris


1. Elvis, hunk-a-hunk of burning love, plays over the speakers,
& you know such heat, to flush deep.

Spiraling in lines stepping up towards the Cliffhanger
at Six Flags Over Texas, you're naked in your bikini,

in the eyes & ankles of boys. A girl on the milk carton.
You'd flash breast to distract, trade one lump for two others.

You'd turn back if you could, step down
from rollercoaster bliss, shrieks of other boys & girls

who wait & stare. If bone could drip like wax, you'd incise
& blow gently to cool the cut. Let it bubble & build it's way

beyond the skin, billow out, then be flattened & smoothed
by the wind so much harder here, a towering inferno over Texas.

2. At a hotel bar in the Luxor Casino, you met your second prostitute.
You, Julia & Melanie let yourselves be defined

by married men buying you drinks. Your first,
you danced with at a cantina in Ghana, slightly scared.

A girl of twenty, you envied her ease & sway
& perhaps she envied you. But when she touched your cheek

you walked away. You should've said you'd let her take it:
the calcium that in others builds, in you, kills.

Let her surgery you, outline on the ceiling & cut.
Blind body switch?

You'd wait to touch because to feel the sawed off limbs
means to love what you dream of leaving

& who falls in love with leaving?
The one in Vegas knew better than to stand too close to you.

Could you steal her body too? She knew that desire spreads out
like any other wet thing, any exchange of fluids.

3. But Las Vegas betrays the world's spinning axis, makes us believe
in time warps & warp speeds, that nothing in between.

Others taught you stillness:
The musée Rodin beneath Orpheus,

who doesn't know he'll lose Eurydice again,
& Eve who cannot feel the cherry blossoms, wraps her arms

like a noose in grief, the female body & how it is played on.
At La Saint Chapelle, colors to clothe yourself in.

Every location sterile until you leave behind chucks
of calcium & blood. Your mother,

like mountains, as if Rodin sculpted her arms & legs
& left the rest of her as human as possible, to sit & compress.

4. Outside, the mountains & desert of New Mexico compete.
They want to exchange scar stories.

You hear one ask another, shark bite? & you wish it were that simple,
something taken away but your story is added on.

With missing, you can create your own definitions.
But when a thing is present it is what grows in others' eyes.

Simply put, your bones are benign tumor growths.
You can lie & say, broken bones

or metal balls to stabilize, but denial is a betrayal—
As her bridesmaid, your friend Shannon requires black

tea-length dresses & red shoes,
high-heeled bulls-eyes. & it's worse, when no one asks at all,

& you're suspended in waiting.
Is vacancy the only true release?

Do we let go every time we gaze up at a neon sign?
To scoop the calcium out would be an advertisement:

Billboard space for lease in holes & cups of bone.
Can a baby sign a lease?

When he said the condom broke, you thought he kicked
you from the inside, but there's still a little cup.

When you graduated college for the first time,
your mother gave you a white topaz ring, gold band.

Your grandmother died the second time.
For your third, your mother gave you a cameo necklace,

wanted to buy you a cameo bracelet as well but you're still learning
how to fold along origami lines, to river, to stand within

the one body, that gold frame & pale face, a smashed curio cabinet delight.

Kara Dorris is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Texas. She received her MFA from New Mexico State University. Her poetry has appeared in The Tusculum Review, Carte Blanche, Wicked Alice, Prick of the Spindle, Harpur Palate, Tulane Review, Parcel, Cutbank and Skidrow Penthouse among others literary journals. Her chapbook, Elective Affinities, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press (2011). She is also the editor of Lingerpost, an online journal.