Mannequin heads set along a building

Self-Victualization

Self-Victualization
You don’t eat your own kind, they tell me, trying to fool and frighten.
But ants do–I’ve seen them–
carrying comrades, fallen under foot and broom,
to unimagineable feasts
in dark halls of earth.

It’s part of the illness; an
overall pattern, they write in their journals.
I read upside down, though–
their cramped, cryptic script of whorls and columns
are less puzzling to me
than the pads of my fingers.

Nurse! they call in alarm,
looking up from their notes to notice
I’m nibbling the delicate skin
of my wrist–savoring the welter and jumble of
old scars–pink and tan
over blue-branching veins.

Hyper-active imagination, they
murmur, when I explain how the Vikings
roasted their dead heroes,
so those in Valhalla need never know that a
flank steak, or rump roast,
was missing.

Diagnosis? Disturbed.
What does that mean? I have my flesh
and eat it too? But they watch,
not admiring the marks of my teeth–a red ruby necklace,
draped over my forearm,
sunk deep toward the bone.

I hunger, I tell them,
when they ask me why–they copy my words
with no understanding.
Boil my bones, I say, down to the glue–
and bind your own
madness together.

They whisper, heads bent
over charts where I’m charted, but not yet
discovered. I look at their necks,
thinking salt-licks and macarons and skin-secret
spices–and wonder if I
should eat out more?

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