Think of those dumb letters slipped in the gills of her locker freshman year. She was the toughest catch, the dearest homecoming queen-to-be, wasn’t she. Remember when twenty-six cats slept under the skirt of our trailer, behind the front steps where the hem was torn. No one wants to be known as the kid with fleas jumping off his MC Hammer-pants. When my dad disappeared he died quickly in me. And when his outline was pressed into the leafy floor, half eaten in those three years, of a naked October forest, he awoke in my lungs and has never left. He was awkward. I think he sits in my bones and makes me awkward, too. My mother says I’m growing into his face; though I took her eyes I can’t give mine to my own. The eyes come from the mother. I am okay. I willingly give up this body, like a sexual act. Its delicate badges, the ease of bruises blooming like spring; I would rather dress myself in the river and its repulsive currents. I’d rather be a river that carves its way again and again, and never settles enough to have a clear face picked from the day’s criminal lineup. Wear the narrow stories of me on your tongue if you must. Leave me the roots. Leave me the forest floor. I’ll give you anything else, anything more.

CHRISTOPHER ANKNEY lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife Lynn. His work can be found most recently in issues of Gulf Coast, New Madrid, Prairie Schooner, and Third Coast. His first manuscript was a 2009 semi-finalist in both the Crab Orchard Series First Book Award and the University of Wisconsin Press’ Brittingham/Pollak Poetry Series.