In the elevator with your mother
The first floor an apparition
Your awareness expands with a pang in your diaphragm.
She clothes you in the stall
The lipsticked attendants buzz and hiss
Spit purple refractions
Of waists sliced in halves many times over.
These million ceiling mirrors do a number.
You plop, watch yourself from below.
Tiny violet surgeons
Stitching your middle, your mother
Who does not believe in church
Has set her mouth a flatline
And a tongue full of needles.
She snips you inside
The French silk butterfly remade
From a magazine.
You picked the one where the girl floats ahead of her feet
And in the parts you’ve discovered
Folded in your anatomy.
The ones without wings though even now
You’re sure they’ll hurt.




Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Collidescope, Bluepepper, and Chronogram, among others, and are forthcoming in Muddy River Poetry Review and Glass: A Journal of Poetry.