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Two Poems | Gabriella Graceffo

Displaying the Wounds


Now I know that I’ve never explained

anything well, not once, not cleaning

a vulva or pulling thighs from leather 

seats in summer or baby talk or family 

recipes that call for dash, pinch, or smidgen.

Not my desperate need to show you

my wounds, for you to touch them 

like Thomas did Christ’s side but deeper,

to the wrist if you can. I call my mother and

try to explain how I miss my childhood’s

easy way of healing a bruise or a bone

or a bad memory with smooth, new skin.

I try to explain my obsession

with my Johnny apple peeler, the one 

that cores and peels and slices 

all at once. I buy the most expensive 

apples, splurge for their sugar, 

lick juice from my palm like a child.

There’s blood, too, the prongs longer 

than I remember. I want to explain 

the shape they leave. I want to explain

stigmata and dermis and all the words

I use to hide myself in language. I could

explain it all for hours without saying

a single thing that’s real. My feelings 

are so far inside myself I can’t touch them.

That’s why I want your hand inside me:

to learn the difference between organ

and sweetmeat and sentiment, 

but you never reach far enough.

He Tells Me He Wants

to crush my throat

& push into its curve    

metal       to spread hands over my stomach       

terror ratcheting the muscle  

around my navel whose numbers spell out how many days 

it will take to tell anyone what happened       

I’m losing my freshness, tight parts going

& I imagine there’s a heist happening

not where it hurts but deeper

of safety deposit boxes

in their soft padding

under the force              like the lobster

caught & slammed open

if its roe would turn

I sit in the shower after

to make my inner lining more like velvet

if my own eggs        have changed

to grip the thin crater there
like a blacksmith buckling
& feel soft
to finger a rotary dial


I know
inside me
an imaginary room full
& I need to hide myself
I rip one down & the lock cracks
my second cousin
to see
red              when it died
burning my labia with peroxide
& I wonder
& if I’ll ever know

Gabriella Graceffo is a poet and essayist working in Missoula, MT. She is a graduate student at the University of Montana pursuing an MFA in Poetry and an MA in Literature. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Cordite, Autofocus, Birdcoat Quarterly, Juked, and The Chestnut Review

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