You go to the room on the right You go to the mute blue cube that is distinctly unevocative that nothing can divide The magazines the puzzles cannot interest you a minute They cannot entertain away you from the glass view of other children Some of them don’t seem sick either but they are Be glad for the clarity because let’s not talk about things as if they’re vellum when everything is inked clear You know something’s wrong with you You have been on both sides of this barrier You have been small and dangerously fevered You have been the child vomiting down her mother’s back You have been cooled by a stainless basin and sent home undistressed You have been examined while being examined Indeed, you have been scrutinized You have been frank You have been snide You have been dishonest about your body when your body has been lobbed against you And the details of your body have been catalogued You have been weighed and calipered You are larger than the other children, now You are hardly a child, anymore You are large and off the charts and your doctor frightens you about incremental weight gain or pubic lice or toxic shock or scarring or tearing or contagion or masturbating as if that’s a cure as if that’s the only other option And no one ever says anything No one ever talks about need or the spikes to your system or about sadness or about sadness No one has tried anything uncompartmentalized No one has tried to do anything but contain it You know I can’t help it You tell her that No one has done anything out of the ordinary
Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer is a poet and installation artist in St. Louis. She is the author of Cleavemark (BOAAT Press 2016), and her poems and art have appeared in Best New Poets, Georgia Review, Harvard Review online, AGNI, The Offing, Denver Quarterly, LIT, Colorado Review, Fence, and elsewhere. She frequently collaborates with other artists, most recently with Cheryl Wassenaar on the installation The Cabinet of Ordinary Affairs, which opened this fall at the Des Lee Gallery. Her work can be viewed at criticalbonnet.com.