"Here is how to drain a body" & Other Poems

Illustration by Vaidehi Tikekar.

Here is how to drain a body

When the nurse checks my pulse he does it with
two fingers, elastic
band taut on my throbbing wrist. I try to steady my
inhales, but at fifteen
I hate appointments like I hate high school or the
sixth season of glee:
Exhausted. And vaguely uncomfortable. At the top
of my breath I think of
all the things the nurse may tell me: that I’ve been
weighed and I am
smaller again; that my gullet swab tested positive
—for what, they’ve no
idea; that my skin is thinning; that beneath this new
membrane dwells a
swath of young hairs, curdled; that the inside of my
left nostril has turned
blue; that the beat he tracks isn’t my heart after all,
but the aches of an
inflatable girl perched within my stomach, humming
along to her desires;
that this girl is swelling, clotting me with plastic as I
shrink; that I should
be eating more, sleeping more, flossing more; that
the opposite of death
is not life / it is want; that he has pricked my finger
thirteen times and no
blood will leak; that I’m exhaling oxygen; that the
CAT scan detected a
chemical in my brain, one related to silicone and
being fucking extra
terrestrial; that the eight miles I dragged yesterday
might kill us; that in
five years I’ll be back here, fifteen again; that I’ll do
this a million times,
sealed in this room, seized, wheezing this shitty air
for eternity, fifteen
forever, aging godlier and godlier and godlier still
until I have birthed
every creature that’s ever terrorized me and my
breath is out.
The nurse tells me my pulse. A little low. I go home
and drink a diet
coke. I put on pajamas and tuck myself into bed,
skeleton embalmed
in a weighted blanket. At fifteen I’m still praying, so I
close my eyes, make the
sign of the cross, and press my cold palms together:
I never died.
I never died.
I never died.


Here is how George concentrates

“Just as you said from the start: children and art.”

—Sunday in the Park with George

How harsh the light was that morning. How still. Precise, George painted, pointed. Net of trees mirrored on the Seine’s glaze. Building the park from neurons. Rouge et orange. There was a skinny man there, thrilled to be seen. His son too, slumped on the outskirts, wary of watching the landscape shift. Rouge et orange en jaune. I saw it in person once. A humid afternoon in Chicago during a weekend with an old friend. Walking weighty. Taking up air in anxious spurts. I’d just met her lover, cute catholic girl from the side of the city. The encounter was alright but neither of us knew what to do with it. My friend had changed, and we were edging on a new politic. I’m losing myself. This was years before that life, before mine. George furrowed his brow, focused on his painting as Mr. God probably focused on His world’s first seven days. Plus vert, it needed, more green. The skinny man sweat from his armpits. He wore the nicest suit he owned, shabby anyhow, stuck to his skin by the second hour of posing. Becoming art was harder than he’d anticipated. Hotter surely. His son wondered if he should have brought water. All the while the shadows widened, eventually flooding the skinny man, the trees, the massive rock at the center of the grasses. A rock sort of like the one at Breakneck Hill, where Noah Weinberg flaunted his philosophies to me and Annelise Eppen became my best friend and I spun alone for hours at dusk one Sunday, stayed until everything but the moon had turned blue. Sorry, bleu. I’m lost again. This was before all that. It had to be. This was George. La Grande Chatte. Breakneck Hill. This was a dream. A visitation. The specter of my father’s father — violet. Granting him forgiveness, knowing we do not change.


Here is how we loved together

On the pool table. Ferris wheel.
Chairlift. Sticky basement of her
freshman dorm. Quietly, during
the dickinson movie. Dyke Avenue
(almost). Floor of my bedroom, forty
dollars worth of take out. Cotton
underwear. Grandma’s turtlenecks.
Two weeks shipping on a hoop
skirt — too wide anyways. Mini golf.
After mini golf. One afternoon we
shard with stained glass, gorgeous.
Drunk. Sober. Drinking smoothies.
In a museum’s newest exhibit. I call
my parents crying from the tuileries.
She touches me like it is the first
time I’ve been fucked. I come
late, but with flowers. Vining
downward. Condensation. Before
rocky horror. After game night
with her brother. Glassy eyes. We
split rolos on our tightened tongues.
To boiling over. Wearing broken
bracelets like artifacts. Underwater.
In the winter. In our aftermath. I
keep her embroidery in my bureau. Still
save for the sound the organ makes
when I press my fingers to its petals.
She fucks me and it is the first
time I’ve been touched. When she
sleeps I writhe with our venom
quietly, afraid of waking her.


Kara Hadden

is a writer, performer, and student at Williams College. In 2020, she co-founded the Between the Acts Project, a non-profit that develops works of theater and the public humanities. She lives in New England and loves cheesy foods, oral history, and being outside. 

All contributions from Kara Hadden

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