self-exam (my body is a cage)

By Nick Flynn b. 1960 Nick Flynn
Do this: take two fingers, place them on
the spot behind your ear, either

ear, the spot where your skull drops off

into that valley of muscle
& nerve—that is the muscle that holds up

the skull, that turns the dumb bone
this way & that, that nods your face up &

down when you think you
get it—press deeper, touch the little bundle of

nerves buried there, buried in
the gristle—the nerves that make you blink

when the light bewilders you, that make your tongue
slide in & out when you think you’re in

love, when you think you need a drink, touch
that spot as if you have an itch, close your eyes &

listen, please, close
your eyes—can you hear it? We think our souls live

in boxes, we think someone sits behind our eyes,
lording in his little throne, steering the fork to

the mouth, the mouth to the tit, we think
hungry children live in our bellies & run out with their

empty bowls as the food rains
down, we sometimes think we are those

hungry children, we think
we can think anything & it won’t

matter, we think we can think cut out her tongue,
& then ask her to sing.

Nick Flynn, "Self-exam (my body is a cage)" from Some Ether, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2000 by Nick Flynn.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: Some Ether (Graywolf Press, 2000)

RELATED CONTENT

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Nick Flynn b. 1960

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects The Body