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poetry


THE BODY PROTECTS ITSELF, DOESN'T IT?
by
Emmalea Russo

it must want to be saved, after it betrays itself

because I fell on grass

not on brick in the center of baton rouge

in a mid-city darkening with Sunday evening

not the 9-5 week closing in around us like buildings along the man-

made lake and everyone had already gone to church

and there were people on porches and bricks unevenly laid beneath what looked

like my sneakered feet

as I entered the rigid state:

fell over, stiff and safe, only bled a little from the mouth

onto grass, and left a body that no longer belonged to me, if it

ever had—left it for something less slim and became

the street sign, an unnatural green and the white lettering of Perkins Rd.

And when I looked at the police officer, I became him. And this I

that I, so slender, embodied

became broader until I was a container, a vase, a glass bottle & filled with a Louisiana city

until I was not inside anything at all and like the oxygen they gave me later,

no one could see me but then in the bitterness that happens when you know youre a person again:

knew I was young, knew I would maybe feel beautiful

again knew the approximate year. but the body must protect itself because rigid—

so rigid and seized—no one could hurt me, not even me.



Emmalea Russo grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania. She holds a BA from Antioch University Los Angeles and is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Currently, her work appears in Blood Lotus and the Bicycle Review. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She considers New York City home.



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