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Christiane Pelmas I favor the scorpions and the mid-depth fish Those translucent, dark-loving creatures Whose bodies leave nothing to the imagination I think they would recognize my longing For the dark dismembering moments when I am reduced To nothing more than the most transparent of filaments Subject to the subtlest of breezes Breezes which cause me to twist and turn The beautiful roots of me Disconnected from everything known Swirling in a seductive and inviting way Over the great black abyss below As if the dismantling that has just occurred Isn’t quite enough and we - those aspects of me still on board - Are now calling for more As if there were anything left to be given away

I remember A few years back when As a threshold into this life’s most ferocious of reductions - the redefinition of a family due to the necessity of a divorce - I was compelled to rip apart the only full bathroom In my family’s small one-story home To rip it down to its studs and its joists So that I could stand with my feet in the dark spidery crawl space And my torso and head in what was left of the bathroom And say, “ this is what you’re really made of!” Like there was no hiding how this all worked now No more being in the dark about the nature of our home

With an aerobic vengeance I neither expected nor comprehended Until later I removed a toilet I removed an egregious 70’s oak vanity I removed four walls and one tub surround of cheap cracked tile I removed three inches and seven layers of rotted flooring Flooring that had, over the last ten years Buckled from leaking sewage Which had pooled in the crawl space Under the concrete posts whose unsung job it was To hold this very home up

There was something exquisite about that room In its gutted form Nothing but old wood bones Neatly pocked with nail holes A pink tub perched on 1x6’s Some piping and wiring Poking out of the walls expectantly Like the tendrils of hungry sea anemone Feeling around for their next meal

We cannot honestly love a thing Until we have seen the truth at its foundation No matter what it looks like Whether it is shocking or exactly what we expected The thing that lies at the very bottom Is the very definition of beautiful The one thing most worthy of our love