Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen

Epitomist

After the stroke      every morning       Lazarus      the sensory & its sleeping twin

your skin a possibility                  for recapitulation                     The ghost removes

a pant leg,            a sleeve,                 its sweater unraveled        to the breastbone

 

to an assumed line       of demarcation                           It takes a mirror to recognize

the stranger parts        boundary lines, the etching of banks             & flood waters

left behind                                      when drought takes                              its season

 

The meat imagines                  the shell: a collection       of ridges like                teeth

Inside, the brain                     & its cavities               plot holes:                   scriptural

contradiction: literal fables                 littering                     your projected outcomes

 

The garment’s frayed           edge: a thing’s half-life                     Love thy neighbor

as this clingstone within                     its equatorial                            sphere: a dying

sparrow & then a tiny cage                 the hollow                      tubing that consumes

 

its brackets      as around every pit,                there is flesh    An empty space within

the embodied               landscape: locale                     of the mythologized           self

black holes & gravity              waves: a stunning canvas             of resonant imaging:

 

a catalyst for stasis inside                   the cocoon: glial cells                 :mitochondrial

wing flecks:                            threads & sutures                        conjoined life before

afterlife:   a window you recognize        because you are seeing                 through it

 

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Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen is a poly-artist and caregiver. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the anthologies “Broken Atoms in Our Hands” and “Dovesong,” and elsewhere. She resides in Utah, writing and caring for her philosopher husband as they work at stroke recovery, the definitions of selfhood, and love.