Lip Manegio

after Nicole Homer

i name myself
                 rotting milk
                 father’s daughter
                 clamshell, cracked against sand rock
                 soap scum stuck in your hair after the lather rinses off
                 son, or something like it
                 teeth littered in grass, planted in soft earth
                 sprout of my mother’s stomach
                 the potato you forgot at the back of the pantry until it started to grow again
                 anything that isn’t a word someone else tried to make me hold

i keep cutting my lip open
as each new word finds a different way
to slice at my gums

eventually, every noise
just smells like iron

i wonder how many words i can fit
in my stomach before my belt breaks open
& the buttons go flying everywhere

you know the monty python sketch
where the man orders the left side of the menu
& the right side of the menu
& bursts only after eating a single mint
     (it’s only wafer thin)

sometimes i feel like that
& i can’t tell when the meal is ending
& i am getting to the mint

sometimes i say my own name
or some version of it
or a new thing i have just created
& it feels like splitting myself in half

i mean,
this is truly an exhausting thing

every morning i place a wafer under my tongue
prepared to swallow
at the first sign of trouble,
let it dissolve thin & sickly sweet

there are so many versions of me
sitting in so many people’s throats
that now i am limescale
coating every pipe after the hard
water evaporates

there is actually very little difference
between who i was
& who i’ve called myself into
only less teeth now

Lip Manegio is the author of We’ve All Seen Helena & is just happy to be here.