The Wound



          It doesn't hurt as much as before, she explained,
fingering the wound that was healing or seemed to be,    
                                    as much as anything that gaping  
          can heal. It was impossible  
                         to tell what kind of wound it was or had
been, the center pink and taut like a puncture  
                or a burn, the edges flaky, rough and begging  
                                 to be picked.  The girl whose wound it was  
                carried it carefully, cradled in the crook of her arm.  
                She swaddled it in explanations that today's  
                                modern woman could have it all, after all.

She considered going vegan, pushing her thick hair into  
              a chatter-teeth of beaded braids.

She considered telling the wound a story  
               to make it sleep at night.

She considered leaving the wound on a church step  
               in Iowa, somewhere warm and normal,  
               in hopes of giving it a better life.  

                             I've never seen myself that way, the girl  
               shrugged, her fingers unconsciously picking at the edges.  
                             The wound was fussy, opening & closing    
                                           its little mouth.  I'm sorry, I really  
               can't talk any longer. I'm sorry, she smiled and sighed,  
                             and ducked inside for feeding time.





World's not exactly the right place for being
a smallish woman with big pork chops.  Fine
if they're Michelle Obama ones, etched little
bulge eggs in lean-long gorgeous arms.  World should
still be nicer to Michelle.  Lady's got some wicked
kind of excellent to put up with us & all that crap
and still come up on smarts and fun-like dancing.
Still, dear biceps, I am sorry.  For such un-
complicated parts, I have been critical.  Back
in the days when we were all together as  
one badass little boat girl, I kept on waiting
for you to bust out finer definition, as if you were
a student's essay I could edit down to find the
proto-thesis growing shapeless in the primordial ooze
of an idea. But no.  Arms, you just got thicker.
And more powerful.  Here's where we left off:
I'm sorry for dissatisfaction. You were awesome
then, and even though it's been a year and many
since I could pull a single up, chin to the bar,
I still appreciate your genetic sturdiness, your
non-wimpy here's-one-for-the attitude, your
sweater stretching broadness and your
offering to fight off all the scary things
and the mean ones and the jackass men who
yell crude inarticulates as they squawk past
in their trucks while we are running, slowly,
in the public eye and urban side streets at
dusk, just to see us startle. Just to be in charge.  
Thank you, biceps, but we won't need your
punching. Dumb-ass squawkers don't know
yo nice ass! is hypothetical abduction, two
thought-beats away from fear of rape.  Thank you,
biceps, for your throaty growl, your eager knuckle
go-to services.  When I was eighteen, I used to carry
bear spray and a middle finger, applied
liberally.  Now, I've learned to pet your
angry back the other way, take a deeper belly,
focus on the swing and pumping rhythm that brings
you and our heart back to steady steady. Thank you
for your willing, but we're too old and wise now for
the angry gesture, the mental brick through the backseat,
the fictionalized confrontation that ends with
nothing good but righteousness and biceps.



Harmony Button's work has been included in Best American Notable Essays of 2015, she has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Web awards, and she was awarded the Larry Levis Prize (Academy of American Poets). Find out more at