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ago
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8
Finalist
Jury
I am in / the laboratory / with my hands / pulsing / under nitrile sky / I swipe / my tongue over / my teeth / my cavity / as / I swipe / my scalpel over / the planarian’s head / a week / or so / before it regenerates / pluripotent immortality / tissue and neurons / unfurling / an admirable commitment / its slowing writhing / in tune / to the alarm / I barely notice / until another scientist / in the lab / beckons me / goggles / gloves / coat / shuffled off / petri dish lid on / tucked away / for the worm / to mend itself / craft its body back / We exit the building / join our evacuation group / eliciting murmurs / there was no drill scheduled for today / a shruggable offense / my forehead / damp with the bulging humidity / until the clouds fissure / twitching / coverless scientists / when will the fire department be here? / the rain is gentle / yet / relentless / like blossoming turtles from / their eggs / and suddenly / I
am tired /
comma tired / so drowsy it aches / like a bitten tongue /
begs to heal / slowly / I move
away from my colleagues / unnoticed / I lie /
on the grass
blanket my forearm
over shadowy eyes /

There is an annoying tapping on my forehead and I awake feeling like
I burst from a bell jar, choking, my body, mouth slick with ink, no,

stalactite drip as alarm clock. A cave holds me like a womb, amniotic float, and I look to see the bronze sun peeking from the cavity’s entrance. The sky is

boiled avocado pit pink and the walls shine amber. I cannot tell
where the water I buoy in begins or ends with the reflections of
banded minerals cascading

in the echoes around me. How I was placed here, I do not know but
what I hear is the marvelous laugh, massive booming, leaking from

my throat, joyous with reckless abandon and runoff.
Novocaine gums buzzing like I’m home.

Oh, limestone; let me begin again.
8

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