Self-Portrait with Hope Buried but Still Breathing

by now you have forgotten the person you were, learning
to draw the needle through flesh—to cut rebind and fashion the body
into a mausoleum and cleave the delicate from the firm

to seal the foolish hope within. now there is only the familiar work
at erasure and the animal sense—hairs stiffening at your neck,

a ringing in your third ear—feral screams of the freshly tombed girl, 
the pain remembered as a body reimagines the limb lost and the loosing too—
its phantom fist clenching and releasing like a prayer

to will the mind from itself prayer to refuse being
broken. only on your most precarious days when you can be swayed

by what the body will never unremember, when you are choosing
to remain and can recall the wound without living it,
only then will you press gently against the seam, loosen the stitches

to hear hope—oh foolish girl—stroking your boundaries—ageless and singing still.


Brionne Janae is a California native, and teaching artist living in Brooklyn, New York. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botoloph Emering Artist award, a Hedgebrook Alum and a proud Cave Canem Fellow. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati ReviewjubilatSixth FinchPlume, Bayou Magazine, The Nashville Review, Waxwing and The American Poetry Review, among others. Brionne’s first full length collection of poetry After Jubilee was selected for publication by Dorianne Laux and will be published by Boaat Press September 1st, 2017.