Hannah Kucharzak
Third Degree

Memory squirms under its scaly blanket.
I recall the loveseat     as a film looping the same frame.

Kid ankles in skipping motion. A glass jar
to the brim with useless sand. Odd what I thought
I’d prefer to cherish. My hand         claws

against the too-small doorknob.
My knees crash
against the missing       last stair.

                                             The lepidopterist
reaches for his pins
to press the thorax to the cork

and suffers a moment before— is it       really    dead?

                                             If I could just remember
the shade of red       in the fibers of my girlhood
dress       perhaps then
the blame would rest.

Bullish roamers, some men.
                                         Take comfort
in dry toast—      it’s as it happened,
not how the tongue has vouched.

And speech, too, has abandoned the stunted lisp.
The tiny bones in my mouth
                                    I’ve cast off,

the disrespect of growth.       Shame on her furs.
Whip the fog that’s settled in. See

its self-adhering properties.       Confuse
the bowl-shaped

skull for a container.

Hannah Kucharzak lives in Chicago and is a member of the Poetry Foundation’s web staff. She is a recipient of the 2012 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award.