My boxers are often ill fitting
because my thighs
span so much of the Appalachian trail.
My partner loves my body without hesitation.
Though, if I’m being honest, this body
could probably use some
but won’t get any
more than it’s already gotten.
From here on out, I will take up
the same amount of space in Appalachia,
as in the hypothetical heart
of the sand hills
Impermanent and already decomposing,
our bodies are just
Once, long before we met,
my partner asked a butcher
for a butchering position. And was told,
meat is a family business.
When I was a kid
animals were unzipped in my kitchen,
naked and blood-raw
strewn on black trash bags—
all those hind legs disassembled
and vacuum packed
for colder days.
And I think what a perfect
family this will be,
me and my partner:
so red, and constantly sharpened.
Just before my double mastectomy
my partner asked if the surgeon would open
me deep enough to see
my heart. And though
my ribcage was left
in its original arches,
I imagine a knife blade
is what has come closest to my core—
a violent scraping of breast
tissue from muscle,
that still aches
months and months later.
This Valentine’s day, we spin
toward anatomical hearts,
and all I can conjure
is my partner’s latest
and upside down.
We love each other so much
we are trying to keep
this life going
despite all this simultaneous body—
all this ridiculous flesh.
For more information about this piece, see this issue's legend.
Kayleb Rae Candrilli is author of What Runs Over with YesYes Books, which is a 2017 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in transgender poetry. Candrilli is published or forthcoming in TriQuarterly Review, Boston Review, Bettering American Poetry, and many others.
This is the latitude and longitude for Egan's Bar in Tuscaloosa, AL, where I sat to write my first book and make all my best friends. Egan's Bar was a haven for me in the South, and has been for many Eganites over the years. It really is my favorite place on Earth.