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Hyperdulia - Matthew L Bettencourt

Mother of fair love, I look to you

let me roll my eyes back into my head and read

the scrawlings on my brain stem

slip my irises around that tower of Babel and look for

answers hidden in flesh trying

to learn what meaning is

Take into your hands the ribbon of my life

reach down my throat

with pale chalk fingers and

burn holes in my esophagus

i am still learning how

to take medication

And see the snarl of knots that keeps me bound

a knot metastasizes somewhere

in the hollow

of my sternum

fumbled in the fingers of

a child still learning the meaning of the word

rat’s nest

To sin, anxiety, and hopelessness

those canyons creasing my palm

and marking the carve of rivers

the storied history of a body learning what

twisted shapes it must become

to hold vice in its hand

I beg you, Mother, by your powerful intercession

curl my lips into vowel shapes

and wonder why i only pantomime syllables

wonder where words gain weight and wonder

why i perform open heart surgery on my tongue

my bloodsoaked canines do the work of unlearning me

And long fingers of love and grace

trace the outline of my ribcage and call that

a bone garden

steepled apple trees grow steelbar

branches

padlock roots

the gaps in between

are learning the exhaustion of

growing a prison

for a recidivist

an escape artist

Undo the knots in my heart and in my life

the strongest muscle in the body

the tongue

you might as well teach it the shape of knuckles

how to wed itself to a sandbag and dream

of learning how bones

feel when they don’t ache

from tendons slipping out of place

subdermal squid limbs

dodging the blow

Free me to love as Christ loves

if only i could scream so loud my lungs

claw their way out of my throat

rend my neck to a bloody stump and

dangle

bifurcated isthmus from my bottom lip

stretch for the earth below my feet

and settle

spent

on a nest of flint

in the empty

left behind

i learn what it is

to be weightless

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us.


Bio:

Matthew Bettencourt is a student, studying Creative Writing at UW Madison and working as an Assistant Fiction Editor at The Madison Review. His work has appeared in High Shelf Press and The Moving Force Journal.

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